HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
  • LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.

BR: NT 1

This topic was continued by BR: NT 2.

Club Read 2018

Join LibraryThing to post.

1dchaikin
Edited: Jun 2, 2018, 1:15pm Top

Notes on a non-religious read through the NT.

2dchaikin
Jun 2, 2018, 1:06pm Top

What am I doing here?

In the past I have tried to take part in and generate group reads around my read through the bible, but I’m not so good at this thing. Partially this is because my approach. I’m not exactly sure why I’m reading through the bible, or what I plan to get out of it, or how honest I’m being with myself about any of these types of things anyway.

At some point a group read initiated as a literary read of the Bible. It was "literary" in theory, maybe primarily to allow a non-religious in-depth way to read and discuss the biblical books, and to remove any confrontational elements. Personally, I also came into it with the idea that I need to read these books in order to have a base for other literature. That is, I wanted to get the reference and more of the meaning and layering and so forth in classic and contemporary literature. I wanted this read to be non-religious, to treat these books the way we might read Gilgamesh or Homer. Having said all that, it’s probably not entirely non-religious and certainly it's not simply literary, or maybe not literary at all.

I also wanted this to be respectful. Not non-critical, or non-snarky, but I wanted to make an effort to see the world through the eyes of the authors, and to somewhat understand what they were trying to do. I didn’t and don’t want to offend anyone.

It’s probably safe to say I’ve failed at all these intentions in various more and less serious ways. What I have managed to do is keep on reading and taking notes however seems most pertinent to me at the time. The biblical books tend towards dry and narrative poor content, but they are also very fast in that information pours out by the line, where each and any line has resonated throughout western culture and literature. So I end up taking a lot of notes just to help me remember what I read and give me reference to turn back to.

This is my oddball way of introducing this thread. I’m going to use it to continue my read through the bible. I’ve completed the OT and read the basic Apocrphal/Deuterocanonical books. And now I’m about to start the NT. My perspective is Jewish, maybe, and atheist, so kind of a weird thing and kind of a normal thing.

As with my regular thread, anyone is welcome to post, or join as a read along. There will be an optimistic schedule below.

Finally, to answer my initial question, I don’t entirely know.

3dchaikin
Edited: Oct 21, 2018, 10:19am Top

Links to all the previous threads.

from le Salon:
Prep: http://www.librarything.com/topic/127545
Genesis: http://www.librarything.com/topic/129966
Exodus: http://www.librarything.com/topic/131811
Leviticus: http://www.librarything.com/topic/133405
Numbers: http://www.librarything.com/topic/135184
Deuteronomy: www.librarything.com/topic/136380
Joshua: http://www.librarything.com/topic/137927
Judges (same thread as Joshua, starts on post #69): http://www.librarything.com/topic/137927#3452932
Ruth (same thread as Joshua, starts on post #142): http://www.librarything.com/topic/137927#3478722
1 & 2 Samuel: http://www.librarything.com/topic/139684
1 & 2 Kings: http://www.librarything.com/topic/142552
1 & 2 Chronicles: http://www.librarything.com/topic/146697
Ezra and Nehemiah: http://www.librarything.com/topic/154880
Tobit & Judith: http://www.librarything.com/topic/159435

from Club Read 2014:
Ester http://www.librarything.com/topic/168909
Job: https://www.librarything.com/topic/171374
Psalms: https://www.librarything.com/topic/179892
Proverbs: https://www.librarything.com/topic/183854

from Club Read 2015:
Ecclesiastes: https://www.librarything.com/topic/187190
Song of Songs: https://www.librarything.com/topic/188278
Book of Isaiah: https://www.librarything.com/topic/189974
Book of Jeremiah: https://www.librarything.com/topic/191443
Book of Lamentations (same thread as Jeremiah, post 50): https://www.librarything.com/topic/191443#5208549
Book of Ezekiel: https://www.librarything.com/topic/193044
Book of Daniel: https://www.librarything.com/topic/195257
Book of Minor Prophets: http://www.librarything.com/topic/200241

from Tropics (this is a private group)
query on moving to the Tropics: https://www.librarything.com/topic/276726
Additions to the book of Esther: https://www.librarything.com/topic/279671
Wisdom of Solomon: https://www.librarything.com/topic/279671
Ben Sira: https://www.librarything.com/topic/285961
(The remaining apocrypha/Deuterocanon are in one thread. Links go to the posts)
Baruch: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6413585
Letter of Jeremiah: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6420187
Additions to Daniel: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6422092
1 Maccabees: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6471030
2 Maccabees: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6471903
1 Esdras: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6472042
Prayer for Manasseh: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6484302
Psalm 151: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6484328
3 Maccabees: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6484368
2 Esdras: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6484415
4 Maccabees: https://www.librarything.com/topic/288372#6487967

Club Read 2018:
Matthew: https://www.librarything.com/topic/292076#6496842 (post 14 here)
Mark: https://www.librarything.com/topic/292076#6519908 (post 59 here)
Luke: https://www.librarything.com/topic/292076#6552978 (post 82 here)
John: https://www.librarything.com/topic/292076#6568714 (post 113 here)
Acts: https://www.librarything.com/topic/292076#6583053 (post 148 here)
Romans: https://www.librarything.com/topic/292076#6588607 (post 187 here)
1 Corinthians: https://www.librarything.com/topic/292076#6608685 (post 220)

4dchaikin
Edited: Jun 2, 2018, 1:12pm Top

Planned schedule

June Matthew (57) & Mark (37)
July Luke (55) & John (41)
August Acts of the Apostles (54)
September Romans (23), 1 Corinthians (24), 2 Corinthians (16)
October Galatians (10), Ephesians (9), Philippians (7), Colossians (7), 1 Thessalonians (6), 2 Thessalonians (4), 1 Timothy (8), 2 Timothy (5), Titus (4), & Philemon (4)
November Hebrews (17), James (7), 1 Peter (8), 2 Peter (5), 1 John (7), 2 John (2), 3 John (2) & Jude (3)
December Revelation (29)

*parentheses note # of pages in my book. Only useful for relative lengths, but still useful in that way.

The book I'm using: The HarperCollins Study Bible : New Revised Standard Version, Including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books With Concordance

5dchaikin
Edited: Jun 2, 2018, 1:59pm Top

Frank Kermode's introduction to the NT in The Literary Guide to the Bible was a good starting point. (he's a lot easier to read than Robert Alter)

Some notes:

- He focuses on the first three gospels, but touches on everything

- so, I learned about the "synoptic problem" - which is about comparing Matthew, Mark and Luke and wondering which is older, and whether there was a lost Q source, whatever that might have been.

- he uses phrases like how the "narrative construction" of the NT "is dependent" on the OT. How, in the NT books, "the supernatural orders the natural in human life". Or how the various interpretations of the text have become an essential part of the experience, "offering always not only mystery but also the possibility of finally making sense."

In brief:

- most people consider Mark the oldest gospel, dating it ~70 ce, but there is lots on controversy on all the dates
- the last five chapter of Mark are notable for heavy allusions to the OT, and what Kermode calls "parallelisms and intercalations". Matthew and Luke don't have this. John in something quite different.
- most denominations give Matthew primacy.
- Luke and Acts (also by Luke) are fundamentally different. Luke is another gospel of the life of Jesus. Acts is about then contemporary politics.
- Paul's Epistles may be the earliest writings, and Hebrews (which is also by Paul?) is noted for a "transformation" of OT material
- But James might actually be the earliest writing...
- Revelation is the latest addition, had some resistance to becoming canonical, and serves as closing, a bookend to Genesis 1.

6AlisonY
Jun 2, 2018, 3:35pm Top

You are the challenge master! Good luck with your OT read - I hope by the end it brings you more than you expected it to.

7dchaikin
Jun 2, 2018, 5:17pm Top

Thanks Alison! It's no fun reading and getting what or less than what you expected.

8dchaikin
Jun 2, 2018, 5:26pm Top

So, I read through the wikipedia page on the NT, took two pages of notes and feel completely overwhelmed. The history of canon and of who follows what, and variations of perspectives on textual inerrancy are mind-numbing.

What I got that's useful:

1. No one knows who wrote the gospels, or when they were assigned the authors they go by now. They may have been anonymous for a time (per Bert Ehrman).

2. Paul has 14 letters (including Hebrews). Half of them are "disputed" (also including Hebrews), and half are "undisputed".

3. Martin Luther was uncomfortable with the authenticity of James, Jude, Hebrews and Revelation. And he was not the first or only one.

9avidmom
Jun 2, 2018, 9:28pm Top

Good luck with your New Testament reading! And thanks for the links to your other Biblical readings. I am reading the first book of Maccabees right now.

10dchaikin
Jun 3, 2018, 8:51am Top

>thanks! I just read 1 Maccabees in May. Have you read it before? (Actually I read all four Maccabee books in May. )

11avidmom
Jun 3, 2018, 3:37pm Top

>10 dchaikin: I tried reading 1 Maccabees a few months ago in another version of the Bible and got so confused trying to keep track of who was reigning, who was fighting who, etc., etc., that I gave up. And then, as fate would have it, someone donated The Lost Books of the Bible to the library where I work so I grabbed it right away. It is a little easier to read than my original attempt was, but not really. It's just so much info. in every little chapter. BUT I am determined to get through it. I don't understand why Maccabees is not included in our Protestant Bible as Hannukah is, obviously, an ancient Jewish tradition and this is where Christianity comes from. ?!

There are other "lost books" (i.e. not included in my protestant versions of the Bible) that I am wanting to read.

(I am going to have to backtrack through your posts and see what you say about your previous bible readings; I am woefully behind on all LT threads!)

12dchaikin
Jun 3, 2018, 6:26pm Top

1 Maccabees is info overload. It’s confusing with good notes, but much more so without. I was heavily dependent on the study bible notes and Wikipedia.

13avidmom
Jun 3, 2018, 8:49pm Top

I am glad it's not just me! It feels like reading a tennis match! (If that makes sense.)

14dchaikin
Jun 5, 2018, 10:04am Top

This is not like the OT! I started Matthew on Sunday, then I hit the Beatitudes (chapter 5) and my little brain went all wobbly. This stuff is messing with me. This morning I had some time and spent a lot of it just working through some thoughts. Here’s what’s weird to me - my study bible notes say nothing about what I’m seeing the text do (and not really understanding). Kermode, who writes the literary guide chapter, does touch on it by talking about excess and paradox. But there is more going on than that. A lot more. Interesting opening.

15dchaikin
Jun 13, 2018, 7:17am Top

The Gospel according to Matthew - intro

So I finished Matthew Saturday and it was quite an experience for me. Traditionally Matthew is considered the first Gospel, with Mark than forming an "epitome" or summary. But now and for well over 100 years it's generally considered to be have been written after Mark, with Mark in mind. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell roughly the same story, and copy several parts from each other exactly, making the order, and hence figuring out which book copied from which, and which added which, quite interesting - although distracting too.

So, synoptic issues aside, what struck me about Matthew was that, in hindsight, it's a lot like the other prophetic books - Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel - and a lot like Moses sermons in Deuteronomy, but it's also different in interesting ways. Like the other prophetic books, there is an early highlight (here the Sermon on the Mount, or, more specifically, the Beatitudes) and then a lot of pronouncements with a strong sense of the tension between the prophet (or here the Christ or Messiah) and everyone else, specifically those in power. But, first, I felt that the Beatitudes are different than anything else I've read in these books, and quite powerful, and that deserves some attention. And second this is story, with a slow buildup of tension, and the creation of powerful scenes through that buildup. The night before Jesus is arrested is a powerful and moving little addition, and it's a literary thing, it's powerful especially within this story. The other prophetic books never really manage that.

And I'll note that this is a very rebellious story toned down. I take from Reza Aslan that calling oneself a Messiah was a seriously rebellious act, with the purpose of raising Judea into a powerful rebellion against Rome. And when Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven, he is being subversive toward the kingdom of Rome that subjects are supposed to pay fealty to. But this book comes after the failed Jewish revolt (66-70 ce) when Christians were distinct and not Jewish, and the Jewish leader/savior Messiah story has transformed to something different...and Rome is no longer the enemy. All my sources want to date this book to 80-90 ce.

Matthew brings in a lot of Jewish ties, and appears to have been written with that intent, to tie the story back into Jewish traditions, quoting extensively from the old testament (especially Isaiah, and especially his suffering servant and Immanuel). Generally speaking, no one thinks the disciple Matthew or a later Matthew wrote this book it. It's essentially anonymous, and attributed to Matthew later.

16dchaikin
Jun 13, 2018, 7:37am Top

Some more introductory notes:

Frank Kermode is most interested in how Matthew works with, ties into and makes this story transform the old testament. This book needs the old testament as a basis and needs to honor that, but its purpose is to show how Jesus fulfills that books and does so much more. It's a transformative work. So Kermode emphasizes how this book uses the rhetoric of excess and paradox, or, as he puts it and which I complete agree with, disorienting paradox.

My study bible is convinced, with unreasonable emphasis, the book was written in Antioch. You can find that in wikipedia too. Not sure its a convincing argument. The author also states this book is "not overly political", which is a weird analysis

He also breaks to book down into five major discourse (reflecting the Torah, maybe)
-- 5:1-7:27 - Sermon on the Mount
-- 10:5-42
-- 13:1-52
-- 18:1-35
-- 24:3-25:46

Wikipedia naturally is obsessed with synoptic issues (as our my study bible notes, to a distraction. For what it's worth, Matthew includes 90% of text of Mark. It also adds in a large portion that is shares with Luke, called the Q source; and it has parts unique to it, including, the Beatitudes, the Magi, the flight into Egypt with the baby Jesus, and the ensuing massacre of the innocents.

From what I can gather, Matthew ties into Judaism far more than any other NT book.

17dchaikin
Jun 14, 2018, 7:51am Top

Chapter 1 - The genealogy of Jesus from Abraham, with emphasis on David, and his conception and birth.

- 42 idealized generations that skip known names, add some that are only here and demand some really elderly parents (although not clear which)
- interesting that the genealogy puts emphasis on women, and that these women tend to be gentiles (under current Jewish law, the would make the line not Jewish)

- Joseph goes through the motions of not marrying the pregnant Mary until an angel explains the father is the "Holy Spirit" and quotes Isaiah on Emmanuel: "Look, the virgin* shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel"
- In the original Hebrew the word here translated as "virgin" actually means young woman, but can also mean virgin.
- The name Jesus comes from Hebrew Joshua, which comes from yasha, or "he saves"

- by opening with a Jewish lineage and a quote from Emmanuel, the book is making a point that this all begins with Jewish tradition, and will tie-in perfectly. There will be 14 key quotes from the OT in Matthew, and many will be conveniently miss-translated, and some are combinations made from two different places. So this apparent tie-in is a little forced, and, I would argue the author must have been aware of that. The author seems to have been a serious Jewish scholar of some sort. If I understand correctly, only Matthew makes this effort at linking so closely with the OT (although some comes from Mark, I think)
- The link to David is emphasized because the book sees Jesus as the rightful king of the Jews and hence the rightful leader. This is also why the birth of Jesus is placed in Bethlehem, the mythical birthplace of David. (Bethlehem is mentioned in chapter 2)

Chapter 2 - wise men, escape to Egypt, massacre of the innocents and return from Egypt

- The wise men come to Herod looking for "the king of the Jews", the first time this subversive line is used, but here in a way that protects the author.
- These men are only here, and it never says "three" - in case you were wondering
- They do find the baby and make their presents
- By having exposed the Messiah to Herod, the wise men actually put baby Jesus in serious danger. Mary takes him and flees to Egypt
- So when Herod has all the youngest children killed in Bethlehem in the massacre of the innocents, echoing the Pharaoh in the Exodus, he misses the mark
- after Herod dies, Mary and Joseph return and settle in Nazareth - kind of/sort of making Jesus a Nazirite (actually a Nazorean). This puts Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, where most of his story take place
- this is all only in Matthew

18AnnieMod
Jun 14, 2018, 4:56pm Top

>12 dchaikin: 1 Maccabees is like my World History textbook (100 years of French history in half a page - by the 3rd Louis you want to kick someone).

Great notes on Mathew.

19dchaikin
Jun 15, 2018, 7:42am Top

Thanks Annie. 1 Maccabees takes place in a seriously convoluted political world.

20dchaikin
Jun 17, 2018, 10:34am Top

A couple things:
- I'm hoping I won't be this detailed on 28 chapters, as then these notes will take a quite a while (I say that, but I'm likely to quote much of chapter 3. And, well, we'll see.)
- so far I haven't come a across any passages that recommend separating immigrant babies, toddlers and children from immigrant parents...in case you were wondering. Not that this should necessarily be your guide on such questions. (/snark)

21dchaikin
Jun 17, 2018, 10:59am Top

Chapter 3 John the Baptist

John the Baptist plays a big role this story. Jesus really uses his movement, and largely becomes his successor. When John is arrested, Jesus becomes a public leader. And John's execution is another key step in the story. But the only description we have of John in Matthew is here, in chapter 3. And it's a bit odd in interesting ways. So, I'm pasting his introduction:
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.” ’

Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’
So this leader, this Elijah figure, is presented as a wild man of wilderness eating locust and honey, a crazy preacher out of a Cormac McCarthy novel yelling "repent!" and promising, through somewhat obscure but striking language, apocalyptic damnation to the current intellectual leadership.

John, of course, will baptize Jesus, after some discussion between the two on whether this is ok. Jesus's line, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." is notable because the phrase "fulfill all righteousness" comes from Ignatius of Antioch, and is the key line used to argue that Antioch was a center in this book's authorship.

22dchaikin
Edited: Jun 17, 2018, 11:32am Top

Chapter 4 - Jesus's temptation and leadership

A lot happens in chapter 4 and it happens quickly. Three different temptations of Satan after Jesus's 40 days of fasting in the wilderness takes only 11 lines. (The fasting in the wilderness is a very Jewish purification, and the 40 days is very old testament. The temptations are neither - but it all has parallels in Ezra's experiences in 2 Esdras, an apocryphal work written around this same time)

Then John is arrested and Jesus begins to take up his role as Messianic leader in the Galilee.

- he returns from the wilderness to the Galilee and takes up John's role, calling out John's line "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (keep in mind, promising "the Kingdom of Heaven" within the Roman Empire is intentionally subversive)
- he gets his first four and closest disciples (who are never really described in this book): brothers "Simon who is called Peter" & Andrew, and brothers James and John Zebedee. All are fishermen, and they leave their boats to attend to Jesus.
- And Jesus begins to minister and provide miracles of healing.

There is a lot of prep here for the rest of the book:

- Jesus does most of his religious build up around the Galilee. That's his home territory
- his preaching is designed to provoke and his miracles are designed to prove both his divinity and the truth of his preaching. The two combined, and their success will irritate the Jewish religious and political leadership, build up tensions and lead to his execution.
- His crucifixion is the spark and center-point of the religion, something Jesus always knows. The whole books leads there, and this is where it begins.
- The disciples are never clearly described, just names and roles. None will be truly faithful or be capable of understanding Jesus.
- What I'm trying to express is that this is a story with complicated and overlapping tensions. A lot is going on.

23dchaikin
Jun 17, 2018, 11:42am Top

Chapters 5-7 cover the Sermon on the mount, and the Beatitudes, the great curveball that in my opinions makes this book powerful and special. We begin with the Beatitudes, and really all brain waves need to shift gears at this point. Christ is pulling the rug out from under our world view - OK, that's an opinion, all of this is. But I want to mention that I read chapter 5 and 6 and then stopped, while my brain processed through all this, until I wrote out some personal thoughts. Then I read chapter 7 and took a detour to Wikipedia, while still thinking of the Beatitudes. The word paradox and the phrase "disorienting paradox" are nice ways to express the idea of this stuff so that Kermode can address it in his essay, but they don't really communicate the brain turmoil possible here.

24dchaikin
Jun 17, 2018, 12:08pm Top

Chapter 5 - Beatitudes plus

It's all here. In a normal biblical book I would quote the whole short key section that is the Beatitudes, but I'm not going to do that here because I'm not sure what impression is will convey isolated from the text. It opens "When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak...", then they begin, the Beatitudes. The general idea of these are variations of "the meek will inherit the earth" - an intentionally weak summary. Immediately after these 12 key lines, when some readers like me have brain waves all lit us, he continues "You are the salt of the earth; ", and "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.". He's goes not non-stop, but whose really listening (your first time through), "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill" - which happens to be Matthews main point, verse other gospels. And then Jesus has interesting ways of addressing anger (associating it with murder), adultery, divorce (which he feels is impossible, regardless of the legal aspects), Oaths and then, relentlessly, "But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile." and "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."

Ok, stop there. What we have here is Christianity, or a version of ideal Christianity, in a nutshell. And I desperately want to add "in all its contradictions". Go the extra mile, be perfect and loving in the deepest depths of your soul, control your sense of justice to maintain this, and hallow the poorest and most wretched, etc.

Before I go on, I want to mention that the way I came here was recently reading, among other books, the wisdom of book of Ben Sira, which essentially builds off the idea of eat and be merry - in other words, keep your faith and your self control, but find your balance in life. What a contrast! That is anti-the Sermon on the Mount. There is no life balance here, Jesus wants all in and is making a powerful case for it.

(And now i'm exhausted...)

25FlorenceArt
Jun 17, 2018, 12:54pm Top

As always, it’s fascinating reading your thoughts about this book. The gospels are the only part of the Bible that I read in full early on (when I was in my twenties I think) and re-read at least once, possibly more, since then. But I never took away that much, and I don’t even remember most of what you’re describing. I should probably re-read it with you, but given my current record, I don’t think I’ll bother even trying :-/

26dchaikin
Jun 17, 2018, 1:45pm Top

Florence - I have a lot of doubt in my reaction to the Beatitudes and I wonder about it and my thoughts go strange ways. I think reading these out of context makes them seem just like nice thoughts, kind of hallmark-y (if that translates). But I think reading them in context may, possibly, force you to think them through more. They are nice thoughts, except they are impossible. They are good goals, except they contradict every goal we generally pursue. If the poor and meek are the most blessed, what do we get for trying to be tough and get through life and even be successful, or just get by, barely? We're following the wrong story track, or are we? And then, worse, we are not only on the wrong track, we're on a very bad track. It can get very convoluted, a disorienting paradox. And it can get you re-thinking. It's an endless loop.

And there's an argument to make that this maybe the point... this endless loop. If your world concept is overturned and you're confused, you are going to be desperately looking for another life story to follow, something that makes sense. And then Jesus tells you you're the salt of the earth and the city on the hill, he provides something you can follow. You can, if you're programmed that way, shed all your previous thought, and follow him as a guide. I'm on a limb here, but I think it's an aspect worth at least mentioning. (although maybe not in such a prominent way as I'm placing it.)

I hope I'm expressing that this is nothing simple. A lot is going on and it is intentional, and you can still see it despite all the editing for gospel and religious conformity.

27dchaikin
Edited: Jun 17, 2018, 2:10pm Top

The name of the Beatitudes was coined by Cicero, per Wikipedia: "The Latin noun beātitūdō was coined by Cicero to describe a state of blessedness, and was later incorporated within the chapter headings written for Matthew 5 in various printed versions of the Vulgate."

Wikipedia's Sermon on the Mount article includes this section:

"The high ethical standards of the sermon have been interpreted in a wide variety of ways by different Christian groups and Craig S. Keener states that at least 36 different interpretations regarding the message of the Sermon exist, which he divides into 8 categories of views:
1. The predominant medieval view, "reserving a higher ethic for clergy, especially in monastic orders"
-- (my note - and therefore not for everyone)

2. Luther's view that it represents an impossible demand like the Law of Moses

-- (my note - !!)

3. The Anabaptist literal view which directly applies the teachings

-- (my note - see below)

4. The Social Gospel view

-- (my note - i.e. social justice, caring for the poor, etc)

5. The Christian existentialism view

-- (my note - see my note on Kierkegaard below*)

6. Schweitzer's view of an imminent eschatology referring to an interim ethic

-- (my note - i.e. the end of the world is near)

7. Dispensational eschatology which refers to a future Kingdom of God

-- (my note - a theory of ages, with Judgment day marking the age to come)

8. Inaugurated eschatology in which the Sermon's ethics remain a goal to be approached, yet realized later

Anabaptist groups would hold the Sermon on the Mount to be the primary section of the Gospels that gives direction to how a Christian should live. For example, Matthew 6:24 says "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." For this reason, certain Anabaptist groups such as the Bruderhof and Hutterites share all their possessions."

*Christian existentialism is closely associated with Kierkegaard, which is beyond my knowledge base, but here are few things I picked up from Wikipediea about what Kierkegaard thought:
- the universe is fundamentally paradoxical (!!)
- wants to revert to an ideal older more genuine Christianity
- God=Love

28dchaikin
Edited: Jun 17, 2018, 2:11pm Top

Yes, I know I have now lost anyone who was still following... and I've jumped ahead with the previous post.

29dchaikin
Jun 17, 2018, 2:31pm Top

Chapter 6 Sermon on the Mount continued, and The Lord's Prayer

My odd perspective on this was something like: this is more of the same but less intense, but wow, look, there's The Lord's Prayer and it's pretty cool.

In quick sum, besides The Lord's Prayer, we have
- instructions on giving, but without being seen to give, so that the purpose isn't for your standing within the community, but for the those who need.
- And then the same idea is applied to fasting - keep it to yourself, it's your own personal penance and purification, not done to gain respect of the community.
- And that you should not hoard your wealth. Or, as Jesus puts it, store your treasure in heaven, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- And " If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (which makes me think of Simon and Garfunkel)
- "You cannot serve both God and Wealth"
- And, finally, don't worry! "And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to the span of life"

All of these are, I think, fundamental Christian tenants, except maybe the last one.

30dchaikin
Edited: Jun 17, 2018, 4:34pm Top

Chapter 7 Finishing Sermon on the Mount - on human conduct and warnings.

More of the same, but again less intense
- First part my study bible calls on human conduct, includes not judging, not profaning the holy, the line "Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.", and the golden rule, here "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you", which I think pulls us back into OT guidance.

- The second part my study bible calls warnings, but which to me seem must more old testament like. It includes how the right path is "the narrow gate", and warnings about false prophets (here wolves in sheep's clothing), doing god's will, and wisdom, here "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock."

- closes: "Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes."

The sort of rebellion of the Beatitudes has cooled down a lot at this point and won't be recaptured. Which means my notes will be a lot easier and let less outside the lines, so to speak. Because the book is more straightforward from here on out.

31dchaikin
Jun 17, 2018, 4:29pm Top

One last not on the Sermon on the Mount: I meant to point out that St. Augustine considered the Beatitudes the central element of the Sermon on the Mount and that this been generally agreed on ever since (although certainly not universally)

32dchaikin
Edited: Jun 17, 2018, 5:07pm Top

Chapter 8 miracles

Chapters 8 & 9 cover ten miracles, echoing the ten plague in Exodus. This stuff is not straight forward. Jesus talks or does things that seem like riddles and it's always clear what the point is. In this chapter alone three different things left me confused. There is more healing. And two main two themes begin here. First, there is emphasis now on those having faith in Jesus, as those are the ones healed or rewarded. And second the challenge of the scribes (and Pharisees and Sadducees), which starts soft here and will become more direct. They don't say they aren't faithful, but the challenging and skeptical nature of their wording expresses this.

miracle 1 - Jesus cures a leper (although "leper" is a vague term here)
miracle 2 - Jesus heals the Centurion's servant. Confusing, but apparently one in charge of soldiers and still able to show faith in Jesus is significant. And, I think the emphasis
miracle 3 - heals Peter's Mother-in-Law in others at his "house" (showing that Peter was married)

break - an encoded challenge: "A scribe then approached and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’". This is a skeptical remark that Jesus through, but the reader doesn't at first and is confused. We'll get it later. He also tells another "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead," but I have no idea what that means.

miracle 4 - Jesus calms to Sea in a storm (showing he's NOT just a minor prophet like Jonah)

miracle 5 - This curious one really confused me and still now seems a little odd. Here's the whole thing
"When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, ‘What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?’ Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.’ And he said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighbourhood."
OK, this stood out to me because Cormac McCarthy has a swine stampede in one of his books (I think Outer Dark) and it seemed so surreal there that I have wondered about it since. Well, here is apparently the source. The explanation I came up with is that the possessed demoniacs were recognizing Jesus as one who is divine coming to judge their sins. And their main complaint, that he was coming before time, was that he was coming before Judgment Day. But I still have no idea why they asked to be cast into the swine herd, or what the rules of Kashrut may or may not have to do with this, other than to emphasize these are gentiles. Of course, note that Jesus is making people uncomfortable.

33dchaikin
Jun 17, 2018, 5:26pm Top

chapter 9

miracle 6 - Jesus heals paralytic, in front of skeptical scribes

Matthew the tax collector, our supposed author, is called, then a puzzling confrontation. Here, pasted in:
"And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’"
Of course, I get the gist of it, but it's, you know, not straight forward. Same with the next section where he explains to followers of John the Baptist why his followers do not fast.

miracle 7 - brings daughter back to life
miracle 8 - heals woman who has been "suffering from hemorrhages" (menstruating ?) for twelve years straight.
miracle 9 - Jesus heals two blind men "‘According to your faith let it be done to you.’ And their eyes were opened."
miracle 10 - casts demon out of one possessed

After all this, he wants to spread the word: "Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’"

34dchaikin
Edited: Jun 19, 2018, 7:21am Top

chapter 10 - missionary discourse

Jesus selects his twelve disciples and instructs them how to spread the word, with warnings and some odd comments.

The twelve: Simon/Peter & brother Andrew, James and John Zebedee and: "Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him."

The oddest section, verses 34-39, says things like: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.", meaning, cutting family ties, and, even weirder, "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; "

35dchaikin
Edited: Jun 17, 2018, 6:29pm Top

chapter 11

John now first hears of Jesus and sends disciples to ask Jesus if he is the one, or the Messiah. Jesus answers "Go and tell John what you hear and see", and then summarizes his ten miracles. Then Jesus preaches about John the Baptist filling in the role of Elijah.

" Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent." - this is an important line. Basically he's failing, and this is the second time he says so. The first was the end of chapter 9 when he thought he didn't have enough messengers. Here he says even the places that have heard and seen aren't following him.

Then this kind of elegant closing:
" At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
"

I suspect the first part of this prayer is an admission of failure and second part is maybe hinting that Jesus thinking what he must do. Also, the second part (1) is close to two lines in Ben Sira where Wisdom, personified as a women, is speaking. Jesus is identifying himself with this Jewish Wisdom. And, (2) it seems like it may have inspired Emma Lazarus in her Statue of Liberty poem.

36dchaikin
Edited: Jun 17, 2018, 6:55pm Top

Chapter 12 - confrontations with Pharisees

The tensions between Jesus and Pharisees heat up and Jesus first (I think) foretells his death, although obscurely. Some interesting back and forth and some great lines.

Paraphrasing from Isaiah about himself:

Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,
    my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

Arguing with Pharisees: "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand." (Lincoln's source!)

And to show the people will repent, he cites Jonah and the wisdom of the Queen of Sheba "because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon".

Regarding Jonah, he says: "For just as Jonah was for three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth." As far as I can tell, this is the first time he foretells his death. I think it's significant that it happens after he begins to see his failure. I think this whole chapter comes out of that. He's maybe provoking.

37dchaikin
Jun 17, 2018, 7:06pm Top

Chapter 13 - seven parables

"That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables..."
He explains the reason for the parables in too nuanced a way for me to summarize. Roughly, he's frustrated because "seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.", and because there are mysteries he only shared with his disciples. He'll give seven parables, and explain them.

Then there is this anecdote:
"He came to his home town and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.’ And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief."

38dchaikin
Jun 17, 2018, 7:12pm Top

Maybe Van Gogh's take on the parable of the sower:

39dchaikin
Edited: Jun 17, 2018, 7:22pm Top

chapter 14 - death of John the Baptist, walking on water and other miracles

The death of the John the Baptist is presented as court intrigue tale. Basically John insulted Herodias, here Herod Antipa's brother's wife, but actually his wife. So she uses her daughter to trick the king and get her revenge, John's head.
"Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; "
You have to wonder what Jesus came up with when he was alone. In any case, he comes back, feeds the masses in a miracle, walks on water in another miracle, saving Peter, and does some more miracle healing.

40dchaikin
Jun 18, 2018, 7:25am Top

Chapter 15

Kind of more of the same since the end of Chapter 11 - word battles with Pharisees and scribes (over tradition and washing your hand before eating, "they are blind guides of the blind") then miscommunication with the disciples (to Peter, "Are you also still without understanding?"), and healing and other miracles.

Chapter 16 - Peter identifies Jesus as Messiah

Starts out with more of the same - word battles with Pharisees, complaints about disciples understanding and faith.

Then he challenges the disciples asking who he is. Finally Peter says he is the Messiah (the Christ). For this answer Peter gets the keys to the church: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

The name Peter comes from Petros, or rock.

Then Jesus foretells that he must go to Jerusalem, undergo great suffering and be killed. "And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’"

-----------------------------------

Going over this again, I'm beginning to suspect that Jesus did not initially intend to die on the cross. That first he tried to be the leader of his movement, but it failed (see chapter 11). So, he realized the only way he could really make this movement happen is by martyring himself. I'm outside the lines again, but in my theory is that the prayer in chapter 11 to "Father, Lord of Heaven" might have some extra meaning. It might be an admission of failure. It might also be a realization of what he must do. And now here he has committed himself to this plan by proclaiming it to his disciples (he asked them not to share this information publicly). Not sure. Just an idea.

41dchaikin
Jun 18, 2018, 7:36am Top

Chapter 17 transfiguration and the coin in the fish

A lot of the same, but first the Transfiguration: "Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him."

Interesting bit on healing - up till now the disciples have been healing too, as part of their mission to spread Jesus's word. But here Jesus heals one they cannot heal. When they ask him why, he tells them because they have such little faith

Then Jesus foretells his death again - this time mentioning betrayal.

The coin in the fish story doesn't make sense to me, but it's am important religious image. It's how Jesus pays his temple tax. He tells Peter "take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me."



42dchaikin
Jun 18, 2018, 7:45am Top

chapter 18 - miscellaneous discourses ?

My study bible tells me this discourse is "inserted here to emphasize community discipline within the context of childlike humility and unbounded forgiveness." I couldn't have summarized this chapter.

Some lines from Jesus to his disciples:

"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

"Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

43dchaikin
Jun 18, 2018, 8:00am Top

chapter 19 - camel through the eye of a needle

The story is slowly moving, but it's moving. The subtle note here, I think, is it that Jesus realizes there are tensions with the disciples and that he needs to do his next act soon to keep them.

So, first more debate with Pharisees and then with his disciples over the blessing of the children, who Jesus doesn't seem to have a good relationship with anymore. Than this passage:
"Then someone came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these; what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’

Then Peter said in reply, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.
"
A lot going on there, but note how the thoughts on wealth lead to Peter's pointed question about having given up everything. The disciples are starting to wonder if this was worth their sacrifice.

44dchaikin
Jun 19, 2018, 7:25am Top

Chapter 20 "having an evil-eye" - ie, envy

- parable of laborers in the vineyard, repeating "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." - after showing how this can cause envy
- Jesus foretells his death a 3rd time
- The mother of James and John Zebedee confronts Jesus and demands her sons have a prominent place in heaven. The other ten disciples got angry, more envy.
- heals two blind men again (like chapter 9)

45dchaikin
Jun 19, 2018, 7:45am Top

chapter 21 - Jesus enters Jerusalem and cleanses the temple, upsetting priests

- He enters Jerusalem on a donkey and a colt, quoting Isaiah and Zechariah, surrounded by followers, apparently children, chanting Hosanna. "the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’"

- At the temple he clears out the market of those selling animals and whatnot for temple sacrifice. "My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a den of robbers."

- Priests are upset at this all, especially the chanting children. Jesus tells them: "have you never read, 'Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself'?"

- After that puzzling comment, Jesus leaves Jerusalem

- then he curses a fig tree, which withers and dies. This is impressive enough for a saying on faith

- gets in tangle with the priests, and lectures them over John the Baptist and a some parables.

...

46dchaikin
Jun 19, 2018, 7:56am Top

chapter 22 - give and take with Pharisees & Sadducees

- Parable of the wedding banquet - which oddly includes a warning against the arrogance of Jesus's followers

- Tax question, with famous line "‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s."

- Confusing debate on resurrection, where Jesus say "You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God." ... ok.

- Then this interesting bit:
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
- Then some confusing bit on David's lineage

47dchaikin
Jun 20, 2018, 7:31am Top

chapter 23 a rant

Jesus goes a long passionate diatribe, repeating "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees", or blind guides. Mostly he's upset as what he sees as the hypocritical nature of the current religious leaders, who he claims act and want to be seen as holy, but neglect real religious duties.

- "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach."

- "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith."

48dchaikin
Jun 20, 2018, 7:37am Top

chapter 24 Prophecy

A prolonged prophecy about the end of this age, with false prophets and the persecution of Jesus's followers, and then the second coming (Parousia)

- "...then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; someone on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; someone in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be."

49dchaikin
Jun 20, 2018, 7:55am Top

chapter 25 parables and the judgment of nations

- parable of the ten bridesmaids - point is, be ready for the second coming

- parable to the talents - where slaves are given money and those who invest it, get more back, but one worthless slave hides his money and gives back only exactly what he was given. The point is for the disciples - Jesus is demanding they take risks to spread his word. He concludes:
"For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Outer Darkness is the name of a Cormac McCarthy novel (which I noted elsewhere above with the swine stampede)

- The judgement of nations includes the lines: "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.". The point gets a little lost of that out of context, so here is the whole section:
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’


50dchaikin
Jun 21, 2018, 8:03am Top

Chapter 26 - Part 1 - Last supper

A lot happens here, so I’m splitting into two posts:

- Jesus reminds the disciples he will be arrested after Passover, and the High priest makes a plan to arrest him then

- Anointing at Bethany – an unnamed woman pours an expensive ointment on Jesus without asking, upsetting people at the waste. Jesus responds, ”Why do you trouble the woman? … By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial.

- Judas offers to betray Jesus for money (presented as his own initiative)

- Jesus returns to Jerusalem and has his Passover dinner with the 12 disciples. When Jesus tells them one will betray him, they each say ”Surely not I, Lord?”, except Judas, who says, ”Surely note I, Rabbi?

- ”While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and, after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins…’

- Then Jesus tells the disciples that all will desert him. Peter protests and Jesus tells him ”you will deny me three times

51dchaikin
Jun 21, 2018, 8:05am Top

Chapter 26 - Part 2 – arrest

- Jesus spends the night at Gethsemane and ”began to be grieved and agitated”. Three times he looks for company from the disciples, who are sleeping, then alone throws himself on the ground and prays. He begs Peter, ”So could you not stay awake with me on hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh weak.” Then prays alone again. I find this breakdown and illustration of how along he is one of the most moving parts of the bible anywhere, so far.

- Jesus is arrested the next morning. Judas leads the men and tells them he will kiss the one they should arrest. ”At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’” There is some scuffling, the slave of the high priest loses an ear, Jesus calms everyone down with a few interesting comments accepting his arrest. The disciples flee.

- Jesus is brought to the high priest. Peter sneaks in to witness the confrontation.
Then the high priest said to him, ‘I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on in the clouds of heaven.’
For this, Jesus is convicted of blasphemy.

- Peter, found out in the crowd watching, three times denies who he is.

52dchaikin
Jun 22, 2018, 7:25am Top

eta - my study bible notes the "trial" of Jesus breaks Jewish laws.

53dchaikin
Jun 22, 2018, 7:42am Top

chapter 27 Pilate and Crucifixion

- Judas hangs himself
- Jesus is questions by Pilate, but doesn't answer
- Pilate seems to want to release Jesus. In a ceremony where he offers one prisoner to be released, he offers Jesus and "a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas". When the leadership and crowd demand Barabbas be released, "Pilate said to them, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ All of them said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ Then he asked, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!’"
" So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified."

- Jesus is mocked by the soldiers and even by the other two criminals being crucified. He is dressed in robes and a crown of thorns and " They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head."
- "And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’"
- this is at noon
- Three hours later: "Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’"
- he is buried in a tomb provided by a follower.
- "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary" (apparently that's Mary Zebedee) and soldiers assigned keep watch over the tomb.

54dchaikin
Jun 23, 2018, 8:25am Top

Chapter 28 - Resurrection

- Sunday morning the Marys and soldiers soldiers witness and angel opening the tomb and explaining Jesus is not there, he's been raised.
- ends with resurrected Jesus commanding the 11 remaining disciples: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

55dchaikin
Edited: Jun 23, 2018, 8:47am Top

That wraps up Matthew. Not sure these notes are all that valuable, I think I kind of got lost in the details, trying to capture all these lines and happenings that I either didn't know about, or had never read in context. And the impressions I wanted to make about reading this really don't come out that way. When I think of what I wanted to emphasize, it was that this book is complex with a lot of different things going on at once, and also that there is a story, a narrative drive that creates things that don't really work out of that context, including, I think, within my notes. The build up of tensions between Jesus and the Jewish leadership heightens that between him and his own disciples who cannot live up to his standards, and this is then echoes across the story tension as Jesus moves toward crucifixion. It's hard to read this and think Jesus always intended martyrdom. It feels more like it evolves as his ministry hits its limits and realizes that this is the only way to really spread his movement - and it is clearly a movement. And that is what makes his last night so moving. He is making a sacrifice, regretfully, and then here at the end he breaks down, and there's nothing for it. No one can help, he's committed and must go through it alone, and of course, he can only panic alone. I think if the Jesus knows this up front, the story weakens dramatically. Of course, these stories play many hands at the same time - he's divine from God, but the also of the David line at the same time, he is all knowing, but also finds failure, god and human, you have to read both ways at once.

Also, there's the Beatitudes. I find them something that pulls the rug out from the reader, but only once. They can't live on their own without the story to keep the reader coming back. And they weaken overtime, because every reader eventually realizes, at least unconsciously, that they are impossible demands, so begins to compromise or rationalize...and of course, notice that even these 12 disciples closest to Jesus don't have enough faith. (actually, the disciples could be seen as a kind of comic relief...just a thought)

A third image that stands for me is the kiss Judas gives Jesus to identify and betray him. An aesthetic coup. And a fourth would be John the Baptist, both as a wildman of wilderness living on bugs and honey, and as a head presented to a princess.

There are actually a lot of memorable images that comes out of this book and this story. A good experience for me.

56FlorenceArt
Jun 23, 2018, 12:00pm Top

The disciples as comic relief? Mmm...

57NanaCC
Jun 23, 2018, 8:56pm Top

I’m following your notes. I’ll never get to it myself.

58dchaikin
Jun 24, 2018, 11:02am Top

>56 FlorenceArt: you heard it first here. : ) And will probably not hear that suggestions anywhere else ever.

>57 NanaCC: Thanks for letting me know, Colleen.

59dchaikin
Edited: Jul 16, 2018, 7:34am Top

The Gospel According to Mark - an introduction of sorts

I finished Mark yesterday. There is a weird aspect of book order that I can't seem to process well in my brain. Mark is traditionally viewed as an "epitome" of Matthew, as in it slims Matthew down to a more bare-bones summary, keeping the most important parts. And that's why it comes second in the NT. But Mark is now almost universally believed to be first, the oldest gospel, with Matthew and Luke coming second, using Mark as a source. OK, that's fine. But, I'm reading in the NT order. So, I read Matthew first. And then I read Mark second, with Matthew in mind, but also while trying to see Mark as the original, so trying to block out Matthew, but also trying to think through how Mark influenced Matthew, and then, flimsily, trying to still view Mark on it's own as a book, and, even flimsier, keeping in mind that all this order stuff and ideas of what influenced what are all conjecture.

So, Mark itself got a little lost. My initial impression is that Mark is collection of stories stitched together to make a coherent narrative. So parts of Mark have a different feel from other parts. The beginning is OT bare-bones - minimal text, each word dramatically changing the story. But this style doesn't last and doesn't define Mark. There are coded references, plays at secret/not-secret, a narrative with parts that should be moving, but weren't...well, not for me. I'm not sure if the was the cut&paste feel, or the fact that I had already read the story in Matthew, or just the way Mark is, but it never felt more than information for me. Perhaps the missing beatitudes do make a difference, or maybe Matthew just has a more captivating flow. Not sure.

What Mark does have is a lot of interesting differences. But, I'll note here, that's not my purpose of reading the NT. I know I need to deal with how Matthew, Mark and Luke compare and differ, but I'm trying to keep that to a minimum.

60dchaikin
Edited: Jul 4, 2018, 4:39pm Top

Some key notes from the Wikipedia page:

- Mark begins with a the baptism of Jesus. Jesus isn't given a genealogy, and the story of his conception, birth and youth isn't covered.

- Jesus tries to keep his identity as Messiah secret

- Composition dates are given as likely 66-70 - in the shadow of Nero's persecution of Christians in Rome and, of course, of the Jewish revolt and the destruction of the temple.

- Wikipedia claims "Mark" is John Mark, a companion of Peter. But that's not really clear. He could be another Mark (and, anyway, his authorship was probably assigned to the book, meaning the true author is anonymous. So, I guess you could call him John Mark, if you like.)

- it was written for gentiles, in Greek. So Aramaic terms are translated and Jewish traditions are always explained

- traditionally it was believed to have been written in Rome (but, then why in Greek?). But it apparently could have been written about anywhere people spoke Greek - Egypt, Antioch, Syria, along the Galilee, etc.

- Jesus does miracles, including tricks with magic-like phrases and using saliva, but the book makes an effort to differentiate him from a magician or miracle worker (like Miracle Max). Instead, Jesus comes to serve, a suffering servant, following Isaiah 52/53.

- 1/3 of Mark is miracles.

- Mark typically gets overshadowed by Matthew and John.

- The original book ended at verse 16:8. By the second century a long ending was added, which includes some interesting stuff about the resurrection, with snakes and speaking in tongues. Sometime after the 4th century an alternative, brief and simple ending as was added to 16:8.

- You can divide the book into two parts, before and after Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah (8:26-31). Before, Jesus stays around the Galilee preaching and healing Jews. After he moves into gentile areas, and Jerusalem.

- The disciples still suck. Sorry. From Wikipedia: "In Mark, the disciples, and especially the Twelve, move from lack of perception of Jesus to rejection of the "way of suffering" to flight and denial". There are theological discussions around this.

- finally, Wikipedia thinks Mark serves as a Hellenization of the Messiah. (Sadly, I don't good info on this idea and can't elaborate. If anyone has a source, please share. )

61dchaikin
Edited: Jul 16, 2018, 7:41am Top

Some notes from The Literary Guide to the Bible, chapter by John Drury

- roughly, Drury claims this is a sacred narrative in the form of a folktale for the masses

- And it's religiously subversive. Jesus breaks Jewish law, for example, partially because readers in this Jewish world would appreciate that. But, as Drury puts it, these are divinely authenticated transgressions.

- Drury uses the terms "blockheads", "obtuse" and "wrongheaded" to characterize the disciples. He argues they are improved in Matthew and Luke (but, having read Matthew, I don't agree)

- But he also notes that the insecurity and incomprehension of the disciples provides tension and gives the book energy

- he notes the text was originally written without any spaces or punctuation. So the word "And" was a key sentence divider.

- And he takes a good cut at the riddle of the bread:

In 1 Samuel 21 - David takes five of twelve loaves of bread from a temple. It's kind of a tense scene, but anyway, he leaves 7 loaves untouched.

In bread scene one, Jesus takes 5 loaves and feeds 5000 Jewish followers and then 12 baskets of leftover bread is collected.

In bread scene two, Jesus takes 7 loaves of bread and feeds 4000 gentile followers, and then 7 baskets of leftover bread is collected.

Drury decodes this as, roughly: first Jesus takes 5 (of eventually 12), like David, but leaves all twelve. He's better than David. Then, second, Jesus takes the other 7 (completing the twelve). Also, he feeds more Jews than gentiles, because gentiles get less...

Twice later Jesus works with one loaf of bread, at the last supper saying, this is my body.

- I don't know if Drury gets this exactly right, but he makes the point that this is a work of codes. Everything has a purpose.

62dchaikin
Jul 4, 2018, 3:40pm Top

This may be all from me for a while... but I might sneak in some more notes today.

63dchaikin
Edited: Jul 4, 2018, 5:00pm Top

Notes from study bible intro:
(by Clifton Black, later revised by Adela Yarbro Collins)

- These editors consider a Mark the actual author. But note that it could be John Mark from Acts 12:12, 24 & 15:37-39, or the Mark from Colossians 4:10, 2 Timothy 4.11, Philemon 1.24, or 1 Peter 5.13. Or another Mark.

- Genres - (1) gospel, (2) biography with the purpose to serve to instruct on a way of life & (3) interpretative history

- Mark re-interprets the Messiah - more a prophet and less a military leader.

- The study bible notes on Mark are far more explanatory than those on Matthew (where they largely consisted of comments like "this section is unique to Matthew"), clearing up some confusion for me in places.

64dchaikin
Edited: Jul 16, 2018, 7:43am Top

Mark, Chapter 1 - quick work foundation

All in one chapter, Jesus is introduced and becomes a leader.

John the Baptist makes a proclamation about Jesus, baptizes him, and is arrested. Jesus than picks up the first four disciples, teaches first in the synagogue, then begins to heal around the Galilee until finally he heals a leper, who, disregarding Jesus's request for secrecy, spreads the word. Now people all over come to Jesus.

Of course, a lot is going on and lot of important lines are thrown in.

- opens with a quote from Isaiah on the suffering servant (ancient OT tie-in)

- John the Baptist baptizes everyone, including "all the people of Jerusalem" - a new beginning.

- "I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

- When Jesus is baptized, a voice from heaven says, "You are my Son, the Beloved". This identifier, the Beloved, reoccurs in Mark (and echoes, especially, in Toni Morrison)

- The temptation is one line, with little detail and no episodes

- one possessed by spirits identifies Jesus as "I know who you are, the Holy One of God" before he is healed. This will also re-occur. Those possessed by Satan or demons always recognize Jesus, and sometimes they are told not to speak as Jesus heals them to preserve his secret.

- In the midst of this: "In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’" - no peace for the Messiah.

65dchaikin
Jul 4, 2018, 5:32pm Top

Mark, Chapter 2

- 2:1 to 3:6 are five controversies, or conflicts between religious leaders and Jesus. Jesus breaks rules on forgiveness and the Sabbath, and the leaders complain.

- includes episode with tax collectors (and Levi, not a disciple), where Jesus explains he's here for the sinners.

Mark, Chapter 3

- after the 5th episode, the Pharisees begin try to get the Herodians to help them

- v7-35 are "a portrayal of Jesus as the son of God" according to my study bible

- This includes healing, picking up his 12 disciples, of scribes accusing him of being possessed ("He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons") leading to house divided comment, and of Jesus rejecting his own mother and siblings for his followers.

- incidentally Beelzebul comes from Baal Zabul ("Baal the Prince"), which was later ridiculed as Baal Zebul ("Lord of the Flies" !!), and until it became Beelzebul. In case you were wondering where William Golding was inspired.

66dchaikin
Edited: Jul 16, 2018, 7:47am Top

Mark, Chapter 4

v1-34 are the parables
4:35 - 6:6 my study bible calls "epiphanies of divine power"

- to disciples privately:
‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that
“they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.” ’
a bit odd, that

- "Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get..." - to his disciples, but good advice for readers in general too...

- v35-41 come after the parables where Jesus calms his boat in a storm on the Galilee. My study bible pointed out he is "quelling the chaotic waters".

67dchaikin
Edited: Jul 16, 2018, 7:49am Top

Mark, Chapter 5 - Gerasene demoniac (swine stampede) and Jairus's daughther

- The Gerasene demoniac version makes a lot more sense to me here than in Matthew 8. Here there is clearly one person possessed and outcast. He tells Jesus, before being healed, "My name is Legion, for we are many". (which brings to my mind I am Legend - possessed/zombies, similar themes...) Anyway, then Jesus heals him, the demons take over a herd of pigs, which stampede. Anyway, same result. Jesus is asked to leave.

- Jairus daughter is a good example of the Mark narrative technique, where a story is told within the frame of another story. Here, within the story of Jairus's daughter, who will be raised from the dead, is this:
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’

68dchaikin
Jul 4, 2018, 6:35pm Top

Mark, Chapter 6

v1-6 - Nazareth rejects Jesus
6:6 - 8:26 - my study bibles calls this section the extension of Jesus's mission, with increased enmity of the secular rulers and increased blindness of the disciples

- Jesus sends out disciples to teach and heal
- Herod learns of Jesus, and some important back story : he's beheaded John the Baptist (same story as Matthew)
--- side note - the name Salome comes from Josephus, not the NT
- Jesus feeds the 5000 with five loaves of bread
- Jesus walks on water
- more healing.

69dchaikin
Jul 4, 2018, 7:09pm Top

Mark, Chapter 7

- Jesus and Pharisees argue of the traditions of the elders about washing hands (Jesus is ok without) and on what foods are clean (Jesus says all foods are clean). Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites and quotes Isaiah on empty worship: "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me"

Also, Jesus lists 12 sins that come from within the human heart: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.

- Jesus talks with the Syrophoenician (ie gentile and Greek) woman.
He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’
That makes sense when you realize the children are Jews, and the dogs are gentiles.

- Jesus as traditional healer for a deaf man with a speech impediment: he "put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’"

70dchaikin
Jul 4, 2018, 7:24pm Top

Mark, Chapter 8 - slow-brained disciples

- Jesus feeds the 4000 gentiles with 7 loaves of bread

- interval with Pharisee demanding a sign at Dalmanutha

- Jesus is in a boat with the 12 disciples in one loaf of bread and they disciples are worried about food. As Drury points out, the feeding and loaves of bread were all a code. Here Jesus tries to tell the disciples to get the code - they don't: " ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember?"

- interval of Jesus healing blind man with saliva on his eyes. Takes two tries. The first try: " ‘Can you see anything?’ And the man looked up and said, ‘I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.’" This man is blind like the disciples.

- finally Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah - the penny has dropped! And the book moves on to part 2.

8:31 - 10:52 - My study bible describes this section as where Jesus foretells suffering and crucifixion, the disciples misunderstand and Jesus instructs the disciples

- Jesus opens this part by foretelling his death and resurrection. Of course, what he is saying is he's a different kind of Messiah, and not a military leader like Judas Maccabee, as was expected.

- Then he tells the disciples: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

71dchaikin
Jul 4, 2018, 7:32pm Top

Side note: This is different from Matthew. In Matthew there is a sense that Jesus's mission has failed, and that this failure has played a part in motivating his martyrdom. There is nothing of that here. Instead, in Mark Jesus is working on changing the paradigm. Jews want a Messiah to kick out Romans and Greeks and Egyptians etc and rule the (very local?) world. But Jesus isn't that kind of conqueror. He's working on a different model, where he converts people to his cause, wins their souls, not their lands and spoils. So, instead of leading an army of warriors, he will die an awful death, and resurrect, bringing people willing to him.

That is to say, Mark seems to be working on explaining Christianity. He's instructing, whereas Matthew is telling a story.

72dchaikin
Jul 4, 2018, 7:36pm Top

(and one can re-read 1 & 2 Maccabees as a failure of an idea. Judas was supposed to be a Messiah of the original type, but it turned out the world was just too big and complicated, and the Jews were just small a people in a big powerful world, and always dependent on the sway of larger powers. The lesson, then, of Maccabees is that this Messiah idea wasn't really a very good idea. I'm well off the script again... )

73dchaikin
Edited: Jul 16, 2018, 8:16am Top

Mark, Chapter 9 - a lot of stuff

There are about 8 episodes here to cover, and six can use some explanation...

- Transfiguration - similar to Matthew 17, but it's little soft to compare Jesus's dazzling white to what bleaching can do (not in Matthew). And Peter calls Jesus "Rabbi", a label on Judas used in Matthew.

- Also, my study bible explains Peter's interruption. In both books Peter, in the midst of the special event, says ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’. That seems weird, but my study bible explains where Peter is suggesting to make three shrines. (Seems obvious now that I know, but I couldn't figure it out on my own.)

- Disciples ask Jesus why scribes insist Elijah must come before the Messiah, and Jesus explains Elijah has already come (John the Baptist isn't named, but intended)

- episode where Jesus heals a boy the disciples could not (Matthew 17). Differences of interest here are (1) the boy clearly is having seizures - which means this could be aimed at Roman Caesars somehow and (2) oddly there is no emphasis on faith. Instead, when the disciples ask why they could not heal the boy, Jesus replies "‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’ "

- Jesus foretells his crucifixion for the second time

- disciples have an argument about who was the greatest (apparently a somewhat common discussion of the time). Jesus replies with lines that are moved around in Matthew and Luke: "‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’"

- disciples complain someone is casting out demons in Jesus's name. Jesus is ok with that, and says, "Whoever is not against us is for us."

- Jesus preaches about "a stumbling-block" and if you "stumble". These are all sexual sin references - against pedophilia and masturbation.

- Then Jesus " ‘For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’" This odd line plays on how salt preserves and fire destroys. We will be preserved through fire - a testing of judgment. And "Have salt in yourselves" means preserve yourself (from sin, or here, sexual deviance).

74dchaikin
Jul 17, 2018, 8:16am Top

Mark, Chapter 10 - several more episodes

Six episodes in this chapter

- debate with Pharisees over divorce (See Matthew 19)

- blesses children who disciples try to keep from him. "Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’"

- discussion with rich man, like Matthew 19, with some variations

- Jesus foretells his crucifixion for the third time

- James and John Zebedee request a special place in heaven. (In Matthew 20 it was their mother who made this request.) "Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’" That's a dark blessing as the cup represents many things, including God's wrath and the baptism means death - he's telling them they will also be martyrs. Regardless, the other disciples are angry at this.

- heals blind man - Bartimaeus. This is probably a play on Plato's Timaeus. "Bartimaeus" literally means son of Timaeus.

75dchaikin
Edited: Jul 18, 2018, 8:23am Top

Mark Chapter 11 - entrance to Jerusalem and the fig tree

chapters 11-13 - The study bible calls this Jesus's ministry in Jerusalem and his address to the disciples about the last days

11:27 - 12:44 - a set of eight anecdotes

- Jesus enters and leaves Jerusalem. His entrance is more muted than Matthew and it's anticlimactic. Jesus doesn't become a king or lead an army. The book is redefining the Messiah.

- In sequence, Jesus curses the fig tree (Matthew 21), re-enters Jerusalem, cleans out the religious market by the temple (the "den of robbers"), leaves Jerusalem again and upon seeing the withered fig tree says, "...if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you"

- note 1: The fig tree represents the failure of Jerusalem to welcome Jesus, it wasn't the right season

- note 2: Both Ezekiel and the Dead Sea scrolls wanted to clean the temple outer court.

- Then, in the first of eight anecdotes, the Jewish leadership asks Jesus by what authority does he do these things. He doesn't answer this question but responds with a trick question on John the Baptist (Matthew 21)

76FlorenceArt
Jul 18, 2018, 8:37am Top

The fig tree is practically the only thing I remember from the last time I read the gospels. I didn’t know it was a parable, I thought it was unfair but also the only time Jesus appeared human and fallible (that fig tree never did anything wrong, it was just the wrong season).

77dchaikin
Jul 18, 2018, 1:21pm Top

Flo - The fig tree bit didn’t make any sense to me without the explanation. It is a little more straightforward in Mark than Matthew (and I’m gathering most people refer mainly to Matthew, and neglect Mark and Luke). But Jesus is much more human and fallible than I expected, especially in Matthew where he seems to openly have to deal with failures.

78dchaikin
Edited: Jul 20, 2018, 7:13am Top

Mark Chapter 12 - seven anecdotes

1st - Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Matthew 21)- point is God is the landlord, and neglectful murderous tenants are the Jewish leadership. The son is, of course, Jesus

2nd - Give to Caesar the things that are Caesars (although nrsv replaces Caesar with "the emperor", deadening the text) (Matthew 22)

3rd - resurrection discussion started by Sadducees who come with the idea of a woman who marries seven different men (following Jewish law of that time). Jesus says we are all angels in heaven, and not married. And then, "He is God not of the dead, but of the living" - meaning, I think, our spirit lives on. (Matthew 22)

4th - Jesus and a scribe agree! Both say the first and primary commandments are "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”. Jesus praises the scribe. (Matthew 22)

5th - Against scribes, Jesus argues that unlike him, David was not the son of God (Matthew 22)

6th - Jesus says beware of scribes. (In Matthew Jesus has a long rant, 36 lines. Here is just this, three lines.)

7th - Jesus praises a poor woman who gives a small amount of money.

79dchaikin
Edited: Jul 20, 2018, 7:24am Top

Mark Chapter 13 - foretelling the second coming, with references to Daniel

- destruction of temple and other disasters
- persecution of disciples and followers
- "desolating sacrilege"
- second coming. ("the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light" - from Joel
- lesson of the fig tree - be watchful for the right season, no one knows the the time.
- most of this is told privately to the first four disciples - Peter, James Zebedee, John Zebedee and Andrew
- corresponds to Matthew chapters 24 & 25

80dchaikin
Jul 20, 2018, 7:39am Top

Mark Chapter 14 last supper, arrest and trial

Chapter 14-16 cover the Passion narrative - Jesus apprehended, put on trial, and his crucifixion and resurrection.

- chapter 14 corresponds very closely with Matthew 26 (see >50 dchaikin: & >51 dchaikin:)

- There are several differences of various importance depending on your perspective. For example, Judas is not singled out in the last supper here. And Jesus's praying at Gethsemane seems a lot different and somehow less moving here.

- one oddity: After Jesus is arrested and taken away: "A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked." The study bible notes mention there are a lot of theories of what this means, but the only thing they provide is that his panic may be put in to contrast it with how calm Jesus is.

81dchaikin
Edited: Jul 20, 2018, 8:18am Top

Mark Chapter 15 - Jesus brought before Pilate and crucifixion

- corresponds with Matthew 27, except does not cover Judas and his suicide. (>53 dchaikin:)

Mark Chapter 16 - resurrection

v1-8 correspond with Matthew 28:1-8 where the tomb of Jesus is found empty. This may have been the original ending of Mark.

There are two preserved add-ons. The older, longer one is 12 verses - kind of lively verses. Jesus, resurrected, appears to Mary Magdalene and twice to the disciples. The second time he tells them " And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’" So, now I know where the tongues and snakes come from, and but I will still forever wonder what led to that addition.

The shorter ending, added likely in the 300's, but maybe later, says simply:
"And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterwards Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. "
They, being Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome after finding the tomb empty. (In this book, Salome is not linked to the the unnamed girl responsible for asking for John the Baptist's head)

82dchaikin
Aug 13, 2018, 6:55pm Top

The Gospel According to Luke - an introduction

I finished Luke two days ago, reading the last five chapters in one Saturday afternoon. The gospels once is really interesting, twice, with Mark, OK, three times with Luke is too much...and still I have John. I know, I'm supposed to be thinking about the differences and the world of ideas that went behind them. But, I'm kind of ready for something else.

My running story with Luke, and please don't take this as (!), is that Mark and Matthew were too sterile for the Greek aesthetic enjoying their Ovid and whatnot, so someone re-wrote this all in a palatable narrative and then an effort was made to blend the Greek narrative with the Mark simplicity. The result is story-line mess, events happening out of place, awkwardly linked together, important lines in strange places, sometimes collected and mixed together in flush sequence of lines. Ok, that's more of a rant than really what I think, but there is something tangled about Luke.

Luke does, however, have what I think is one of the most powerful scenes in the gospels. This book re-writes the early story of Jesus, and in chapter 4 Jesus launches himself to the world. He stands up in his synagogue in Nazareth, unknown or just another guy giving a speech, and, opens Isaiah and reads:
"‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
"
or, as Tyndale put it,
"The sprete of the lorde vpon me because he hath annoynted me: to preache ye gospell to ye poore he hath sent me: and to heale the broken harted: to preache delyverauce to the captive and sight to the blinde and frely to set at lyberte them that are brused"
Jesus is standing defiantly in front of his people and through some of the most meaningful traditional words saying, I am the Messiah.
"And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him."
They aren't expecting this, his congregation, and they don't get it right away, and when they do, they "all in the synagogue were filled with rage". That is, I think, a beautiful moment for Christianity, like Apple Super Bowl add, he is announcing himself to the self-content power center, a rebel with something to offer - "delyverauce ...sight ... and frely ...lyberte" for the forgotten masses. (Tyndale, of course, was executed. The King James Version modified this a touch.)

83dchaikin
Aug 13, 2018, 7:46pm Top

Some notes on Luke from Wikipedia:

- Longest book in the NT. And, together with Acts (a continuation), makes up 27.3% of the NT.

- Tradition author is Luke the Evangelist, a companion of Paul (and a physician). But there are contradictions between Acts and the Pauline letters, and Acts doesn't accurately represent Paul

- Composition - 80-110, the later revisions
- (If Luke the Evangelist was the author, the composition was much earlier then that)

- Earliest copies differ, with two general types - called Alexandrian and Western. The Western variations have an apparent pattern of revisions and are therefore considered later.

- Luke has 24 chapters. The sections unique to Luke are in the opening sections, in 6:17-8:3 (including the Sermon on the Plain) and 9:51-18:14 (Jesus's travel to Jerusalem.)

- Luke and Acts supposedly have a parallel structure that goes like this:

LUKE ---------------------------------- Acts
1. Jesus as a baby in Jerusalem----- Jerusalem
2. 40 days in the desert-------------- 40 days before ascension
3. Jesus in Samaria------------------- Samaria
4. Jesus in the Decapolis------------- Asia Minor
5. Jesus receives the Holy Spirit----- Christians rcv the Holy Spirit (Pentacost)
6. Jesus preaches with the Power of Spirit--- Apostles preach with the PoS
7. Jesus heals------------------------- Apostles heal
8. Jesus's death----------------------- Martyrdom of Stephen
9. Apostles sent to preach------------ Paul preaches in Rome

84dchaikin
Edited: Aug 14, 2018, 8:09am Top

Notes from the Luke chapter in the The Literary Guide to the Bible, by John Drury.

Drury has this take on the Luke that the author wrote in a leisurely way with a lot of literary self-confidence. I think he is mainly talking about the casual and folk-tale-like opening section.

- sees book as structured by prophecies made and fulfilled in the past, during the story and looking ahead

- another theme follows a flow of ignorance to recognition, and confusion to clarity

- connects Luke closely to John

- he's really interested in chapter 24, post-crucifixion. The tomb is left unoccupied over the sabbath, then the closest women followers come to his tomb, which is, of course, empty. But they are met by two men in shinning clothing. Drury claims these men are Moses and Elijah. Further, Jesus first appears in disguise to two other men and has an extensive conversation with them, before he reveals himself directly to the prophets

- vaguely, Mark likes sudden changes that break bounds, and transgress roles. But Luke is more in flow, generating energy from what's happening, without the shock. Mark's "And Suddenly..." becomes Lukes' "And it came to pass..."

- Important sections only in Luke include: the good Samaritan, the prodigal son and the unjust steward.

- he calls Matthew (not Luke) the best commentary on Mark, which is interesting and also emphasizes the Mark, then Matthew, then Luke sequence that all commentators appears to see and assume, but that none are willing to commit to because it can't be proven.

- Luke tries to add realism and is more optimistic than Mark or Matthew (I would say it's more laid back)

85dchaikin
Aug 14, 2018, 10:19pm Top

Brief notes from the Harper Collins Study Bible introduction:

- These editors put the composition at 85-95 ce (Wikipedia says 80-110)

- tradition composition is in Antioch, but it's actually unknown and could have come from about anywhere in the Roman world

- editors emphasize that the author made an effort to make this story harmless to Rome.

86dchaikin
Aug 14, 2018, 10:50pm Top

Luke Chapter 1

"Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed."

So, Luke opens. Luke is, I think, most distinctive in the first two chapters. This is where the book reads like someone is telling a story, with some fairy-tale like elements, and where it's unpolluted by the necessity to incorporate this or that critical detail, quote or line. Here the author is free from Mark and Matthew.

A lot happens in chapter 1, and it's all unique to Luke:

- Annunciation of John the Baptist : Zechariah is chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the temple. There he meets an angle who tells him his barren wife Elizabeth is going to have a baby named John, who will keep himself pure in certain ways and use "the spirit and power of Elijah" to do what John the Baptist will do. Then the angle makes Zechariah mute...

- Annunciation of Jesus by Gabriel to the virgin Mary

- Mary meets a pregnant Elizabeth: " as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy."

- Mary then sings a song of praise (like Hannah's song in 1 Samuel) and stays with Elizabeth for 3 month

- John the Baptist is born and named John, thanks for Zechariah's writing table

- The Zechariah regains speech and gives a long prophecy on the coming Jesus (known as the Benedictus)

- Then John the Baptist grows up in the wilderness

------

I'll note that is all a little entertaining, a little silly and, oddly, pretty much entirely unnecessary.

87dchaikin
Edited: Aug 14, 2018, 11:15pm Top

Luke Chapter 2

Chapter two is more of the same like chapter one: entertaining, silly, not clearly necessary or critical the rest of the book in any way I could pick up. (the study bible notes point to the setting up of themes; but having read the book only once, I'm not yet convinced these themes are really central to the rest of the book.)

- Jesus is born in Bethlehem, but only by chance. Joseph must register there, but he's actually from Nazareth. Hence Jesus of Nazareth can also be from Bethlehem as part of the Davidic line.

- Angels appear before random shepherds around Bethlehem and announce the Messiah has been born and chant "Glory to God".

- Jesus is circumcised in Bethlehem and two weird stories occur. First an old man, Simeon, recognizes Jesus, grabs him and holds him up and gives thanks for having seen this master and savior in his lifetime. (This is called Nunc Dimittis.) Then an old prophet, Anna, also sees Jesus and begins to praise him.

---- three things: (1) the book doesn't say circumcised. It says "When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, ". (2) I would think his parents would have been really freaked out by this and (3) for what it's worth, Luke does man-woman parallels like this throughout

- Back in Nazareth

- Then in Jerusalem a twelve year old Jesus amazes religious teachers with his understanding. This is a reference to the Bar Mitzvah of Jesus.

88dchaikin
Aug 14, 2018, 11:23pm Top

Luke Chapter 3

Now the book begins to merge into the main story, although awkwardly.

- in 29 ce ("the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius") John the Baptist makes his baptizing proclamations, and is then arrested.

- then Jesus is baptized... but, by who? (This is the first instance where I think the awkward merging of books shows)

- Then Jesus's lineage is given (and, no, it doesn't match Matthew's version)

- In the John story, we are introduced to the names Pontius Pilate, Herod (actually Herod Antipas), and Philip (Herod's brother) and some other names.

89dchaikin
Edited: Aug 14, 2018, 11:35pm Top

Luke Chapter 4

This is the chapter where I think Luke peaks.

- first we cover the standard stories of Jesus's 40 days in the wilderness and the temptations

- Then Jesus begins to teach in the synagogue

- And he makes his entrance reading Isaiah, as I noted in the introduction. For me, this is Luke's best section.

- What is relevant here is that Jesus is stating that he is the Messiah in a somewhat coded way, and getting rejected. The audience not only doesn't fully buy it, but, after Jesus gets upset and taunts them, they reject him in rage and try to throw him off a cliff. This is a recital for his crucifixion.

- Jesus performs his first notable healing on a man possessed in Capernaum, and word begins to spread about him.

- healing at Simon's house. Another merging of books oddity. Simon (Peter) hasn't been introduced yet.

- Jesus gets overwhelmed by crowds at Capernaum.

90dchaikin
Aug 14, 2018, 11:45pm Top

Luke Chapter 5

- the first three disciples and then stories from Mark on healing lepers, confronting Pharisees on healing the paralytic, on being with the Tax-collector and other sinners, confronting the Pharisees over his followers not fasting, " And no one puts new wine into old wineskins" (Matthew 8 & 9, Mark 1 & 2)

- notable about the first three disciples, is the Jesus seems random about selecting them. He just takes a boat to be able to preach to the crowds from a distance. It happens to be Simon/Peter's boat.

- When Simon/Peter sees Jesus perform a miracle on catching fish (a blatant reference to netting followers), "he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’"

91dchaikin
Edited: Aug 16, 2018, 7:18am Top

Luke Chapter 6 - Sermon the Plain

- first Jesus and Pharisees have it out over plucking grain and healing on the Sabbath (Mark 2-3, Matthew 10/12)

- then Jesus gets his 12 disciples. In Matthew this occurs late and in a different context (chapter 10), well after the Sermon on the Mount and several other miracles. In Mark (chapter 3) there is no sermon, and this is roughly parallel

- then a description of Jesus with his disciples surrounded by crowds who came from all over the region to be healed in body and spirit.

- then, to them, he gives the Sermon on the Plain. It's a soft imitation of the Sermon on the Mount, but it gets the main themes across - blessed are the poor, hungry and weeping, love your enemies (and the golden rule), woe to the rich, satisfied and laughing. "Do not judge... give, and it will be given to you... the measure you give will be the measure you get back".

- "Can a blind person guide a blind person?" - a message to his disciples

- "No good tree bears bad fruit...it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks."

92dchaikin
Edited: Aug 16, 2018, 7:33am Top

Luke Chapter 7 - miscellaneous stuff

- Jesus heals slave of faithful Centurion (and, therefore, a gentile) (Matthew 8)

- Jesus raises a dead son in Nain

- Disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus if he's the one (Matthew 11), and Jesus gives an odd little spiel about John.

- And a meal hosted by Pharisees and where a woman "who was a sinner" begins to bathe Jesus's feet in oil, a variation on the woman in Bethany in Matthew 26 and Mark 14, but in a different place. Those are part of the Passion narrative, but this is early on. Jesus gives a lecture with parable and, as far as I can tell, say roughly the bigger the sin, the better the reward of forgiveness. (which makes no sense to me.)

93dchaikin
Aug 16, 2018, 7:35am Top

My notes have, at this point, "J touches a lot of impure people". Not sure why I put that here exactly, but it seems to be a point worth noting.

94dchaikin
Aug 16, 2018, 7:49am Top

Luke Chapter 8 - more miscellaneous stuff

- Jesus travels around proclaiming the gospel with his disciples, and, uniquely here, with several women, including three who are named: Mary Magdalene (cured of seven demons), Joanna (wife of Herod's steward), and Susanna

- variation on the parables (Matthew 13, Mark 4)

- "No one after lighting a lamp hides it..." (Matthew 5, 7, 10 & 13, Mark 4)

- "‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’ " In Matthew 12 and Mark 3 Jesus pointedly rejects his own family. This is the same thing, except here it could be construed such that he is embracing his followers as an addition to his family, instead of in place of his rejected family.

- Three demonstrations of Jesus's power

--- Calms a storm while in a boat on the Galilee (Matthew 8, Mark 4)
--- Heals Legion and the swine stampede (Matthew 8, Mark 5)
--- Hemorrhaging woman healed as he restores a girl to life (Matthew 9, Mark 5)

95dchaikin
Edited: Aug 16, 2018, 11:28pm Top

Luke Chapter 9 - more miscellaneous stuff, and the beginning of the road to Jerusalem

- Jesus sends disciples to spread the word (Matthew 9-10, Mark 6)

- Herod hears rumors about an unknown prophet, and we learn he has beheaded John the Baptist (That last point is related in one line, and feels like maybe it was an important plot point overlooked in an original Luke and later added in )

- Jesus feeds 5000 with 5 loaves (Matthew 14, Mark 6)

- disciples return from mission (only in Luke) and Jesus asked them about what the people are saying about him. He learns people are calling him another John the Baptist, or another Elijah or another ancient prophet. Then, under questioning, Peter admits the disciples think he is the Messiah. This modifies an important aspect of Matthew and Mark, where the disciples are unable to recognize the Messiah, causing a lot of tension and frustrating Jesus. Different book, different feel. I'm left suspecting this author just didn't get the subtlety in the flows of the other books and so sort of flubbed that here.

- Jesus foretells his death for the first time. "Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me...'"

- transfiguration (Matthew 17, Mark 9)

- Jesus heals a possessed boy the disciples could not heal (Matthew 17, Mark 9)

- Jesus foretells his betrayal. The disciples "were afraid to ask him about this saying."

- Discussion on greatness and how the least is the greatest (Matthew 18, Mark 9)

- Jesus is OK with someone casting out demons in his name (Mark 9)

- Finally Jesus begins his journey to Jerusalem, something that only occurs in Luke and will cover 9:51 through 19:27, with many different stories along the way.

- This first story along the road is where a village of Samaritans, who are hostile to Jews, refuse Jesus. This is a Luke only story and maybe sets up the good Samaritan story, also only in Luke.

- In the next story Jesus rejects three followers, apparently because they weren't dedicated enough, weren't entirely committed to the rejection of everything else.

96dchaikin
Aug 16, 2018, 11:25pm Top

I'm left wondering if much from Mark and Matthew was added in later to a pre-existing Luke. A lot of these copied plot details "feel" shoved into the flow.

97dchaikin
Aug 16, 2018, 11:52pm Top

Luke Chapter 10

- The mission of 70 : They are sent in pairs to every town Jesus intends to go (along the way to Jerusalem). Jesus then curses three cities. The the seventy return in joy. This is an odd bit where his followers report how demons submit to Jesus, and he tells about Satan's fall from heaven "like a flash of lightning", and how the 70 can dance on scorpions, snakes and enemies.

- "At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth..." - In Matthew this is equivalent to where Jesus makes in moving statement to God, his father (chapter 11), and which I interpreted as a realization of failure. Here it becomes a celebration. This tension-turns-happy theme carries throughout Luke. Jesus has no anger or fear or disappointment in Luke. Even his last words on the cross are joyful and victorious. (I find Matthew a thousand times more moving, and Luke's happiness feels a touch deranged.)

- 10:25 - 11:13 - my study bible describes this section as where "Jesus teaches the way of the kingdom"

- The parable of the Good Samaritan : This begins with a lawyer asking Jesus how to "inherit eternal life". Jesus responds with the golden rule, then he goes on to tell a story about man attacked by robbers and left on the side of the road. The Jews won't touch him, because he's impure. A priest and Levite pass him by. But a Samaritan stops and helps him. The lesson is showing mercy, but also a knock at Jewish leadership. And, it worth noting, Jesus stands out as one who will touch the impure.

- The chapters ends with a weird story at the house of a Mary and Martha. Martha can't spend time with Jesus because she is too busy taking care of the guests, while Mary neglects all this to be with Jesus. Jesus tells Martha, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." And the moral is?

98dchaikin
Aug 17, 2018, 12:04am Top

Luke Chapter 11

- a variation of the Lord's prayer, but much weaker than in Matthew 6.

- the section closes with a lesson the perseverance in prayer - "Ask, and it will be given..."

- some stories from Matthew 12 and Mark 3, included Beelzebul and the house divided

- Jesus compares himself to Jonah in Nineveh, where he gets the whole city to repent. But the Jews aren't repenting as Jesus demands.

- the lamp again - no one hides a lit lamp. "Your eye is the lamp of your body."

- Then there is a long section where Jesus is invited to join Pharisees for dinner, and begins to insult them. At one point a lawyer says, "Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too." Jesus uses this to continue his rant of woe, upsetting everyone. To my ears this criticism comes across as incoherent and scattered, basically as if Jesus is being an angry internet troll.

99dchaikin
Aug 18, 2018, 10:12am Top

Luke Chapter 12 - a sequence of confusing events

This is a really confusing chapter. Jesus says a lot of things to the disciples that I'm having trouble processing either because I don't understand or I don't know why he's saying it.

- Jesus is in front of a crowd with his disciples (12 men and also his women followers). First he addresses them about secrets(?) and blasphemes(?). I think, roughly, he's warning them that there can be no secrets, everything will come out in the open. He says, "whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven", which is maybe his way of saying "you can't hide your doubts and criticisms." But, I'm not really sure.

- And it includes this line: "And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God." This is much debated line as it implies that Jesus and the Son of Man are not the same

- Anyway, a member of the crowd asks Jesus to help him with an unfair inheritance division, and Jesus responds with a parable against the rich

- then, back to the disciples, in continuation, he gives them a lecture that's not clear. It seems to be on selling all their possessions and making themselves ready for the coming of the Son of Man (2nd coming?)

- "Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’" Jesus responds with something about serving your master faithfully.

- This is all really confusing, and I think other regular readers like me will be confused too. Then, in midst of this, Jesus says:
"‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided:
father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’
"
So, now, I'm totally confused. What is he doing here? I don't think Jesus gets this dark anywhere else in the other gospels.

- Then Jesus gives two short ominous warnings with allusions to Judgement Day - first about how his disciples should be able to see what's coming, in the same way they can predict the weather. Then he gives a warning to settle disputes before you get to the judge, where the judgment can be unpredictable - presumably a reference to getting yourself ready and pure for Judgment Day..

- I don't know if my notes on this chapter will help anyone trying to understand any of this.

100dchaikin
Aug 18, 2018, 12:06pm Top

Luke Chapter 13 - more miscellaneous stuff, then Jesus continues to Jerusalem.

"At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices."

Luke slides in a little a commentary on Pilate. Jesus responds, as he want to do, not with horror but by taking it in stride. He says, "repent, you will all perish as they did"

- parable of the fig tree (Matthew 21, Mark 11)
- Jesus heals a crippled woman in a synagogue on the Sabbath, upsetting the community
- parables of the mustard seed and yeast (Matthew 13, Mark 4)

- 13:22 - 17:10 - "Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem"

- Jesus on the narrow door to salvation. And concludes "Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last." (Matthew 7, 8 & 19, Mark 10)

- Pharisees warn Jesus away from somewhere (?), and Jesus answers "I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! ... See, your house is left to you."

101dchaikin
Aug 18, 2018, 12:24pm Top

Luke Chapter 14

- another meal at a Pharisee's house, with more lectures

- 1st Jesus heals in the house on the Sabbath
- then he criticizes the guests seating by place of honor.
- then he says hosts should not invite those who may repay them, but invite the poor who cannot repay so you will be blessed
- when guests politely suggest anyone can be blessed, Jesus responds with the parable of the great dinner, where the invitees all refused because they had other things to do, so the host invited the poor. Read as parallel the Jesus's movement, resisted by the leadership.

- back in front of the crowd, Jesus restates the cost of discipleship: " ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Have to wonder if "hate" is the best translation there. Most translations use it, but some polish it up a bit with worlds like "you must put aside" in place of "hate".

- you aren't the salt of the earth here (Mathew 5), but salt does have its presence in here (and in Mark too, Mark 9) "Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?" The meaning is, roughly, disciples must maintain their complete faith and loyalty always.

102dchaikin
Edited: Aug 18, 2018, 12:45pm Top

Luke Chapter 15 - three parables on the lost and found

- parable of the lost sheep (in response to Pharisee criticism that Jesus is spending time with the tax collectors and sinners, like Matthew 18)

- parable of the lost coin

- parable of the Prodigal Son: This story of father who gives his two sons their inheritance early. One stays and works hard, the other leaves and looses it all in sinful activity, and is reduced to working on a pig farm (very bad for kosher Jews) until he decides to come and face the punishment. His father, on seeing him, welcomes him home and rejoices. When the good brother protests the warm welcome, his father explains "he was lost and has been found."

The prodigal son is a really important Christian story that is only in Luke. The point of the story is, roughly, how sinners can return to God and be more warmly treated then those who never sinned.

103dchaikin
Aug 18, 2018, 1:14pm Top

Luke Chapter 16 on wealth

- The Parable of the Dishonest Manager is given to his disciples. They convoluted nature of this parable, to me, is captured by the line "And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes." Worse, he doesn't exactly say "dishonest wealth", the literal translation is "the Mammon of wickedness". Please explain that one to me.

- then he lectures the Pharisees for their supposed love of money. "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped." - (OK, I was expecting the camel...)

- then the no-divorce comment (male perspective here)

- The Rich Man and Lazarus: (still to the Pharisees) Lazarus was a poor man with sores all over his body who was neglected by a rich man. When the rich man is burning in hell ("Hades"), he sees Abraham with Lazarus (and other angels. The word "heaven" isn't used). First he asks Abraham to have Lazarus give him some respite from his agony, and Abraham refuses. Then he asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers of the cost of their rich lives. Abraham responds, "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

I'm trying to think of another place where the punishment of hell is expressed through torment of flames, or in any way. The canonical Jewish texts don't have anything on hell, or even a hell/heaven thing. 2 Esdras has a lot on the afterlife good/bad split (it's one of the most interesting biblical books), but I don't recall burning specifically. ?? So, this may be my first encounter with it in the bible.

104dchaikin
Edited: Aug 18, 2018, 2:17pm Top

Luke Chapter 17

- a section on sayings including on thanking slaves (and therefore Jesus himself)

- 17:11 - 19:27 - The final stages on the Journey to Jerusalem

- then Jesus heals ten lepers (but without touching them). Only one thanks him

- then Jesus tells Pharisees of the coming Kingdom of God. "For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation."

105dchaikin
Aug 18, 2018, 2:36pm Top

Luke Chapter 18

(to Pharisees)

- The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge : A judge gives justice to a widow only after she continually pesters him. The point is the faithful should "cry to him {God} day and night". ??

- The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector : "thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even ... this tax-collector" asking for mercy are better than a self-righteous Pharisee thanking god for not being like them

(to disciples)

- Jesus Blesses Little Children (Matthew 19, Mark 10)

- The Rich Ruler - here is the camel through the eye of the needle bit (Matthew 19, Mark 10).

- Jesus foretells his death again (6th time here?)

(to crowd in Jericho)

- heals a blind man calling him the son of David (Matthew 20, Mark 10)

106dchaikin
Edited: Aug 18, 2018, 3:02pm Top

Luke Chapter 19 Jericho to Jerusalem

-----(in Jericho)-----

- Jesus praises Zacchaeus, a tax-collector, for pledging half his wealth to the poor (why, here, only half?)

-----(near Jerusalem)-----

- The Parable of the Ten Pounds (I really don't like this one) (Matthew 25)

- Jesus enters Jerusalem from Bethphage and the Mount of Olives, to singers of praise (Matthew 21, Mark 11). "Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’" That is the last line referencing Pharisees in the book. Apparently they play a supportive role in Acts.

- Jesus weeps over the future destruction of Jerusalem as he approaches it.

-----(in Jerusalem)-----

- Jesus cleanses the Temple market (Matthew 21, Mark 11)

- 19:47 - 21:38 - Jesus teaches in the temple

- note that Luke doesn't have a Passion narrative. Instead, in the week leading up to the crucifixion is just a time of teaching

107dchaikin
Edited: Aug 18, 2018, 3:15pm Top

Luke Chapter 20

- Jesus in a debate with the "chief priests and the scribes" in the temple. He corners them in the discussion based on the popular belief that John the Baptist was a prophet (Matthew 21, Mark 11).

- I know this is out of place, but I feel the need to note here that he corners them on something that was not necessarily true, but just thought to be true. It's a discussion won on the strength of unfounded popular opinion.

- The Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Matthew 21, Mark 12)

- Jewish leadership begins to monitor and spy on Jesus ("So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor.")

- Give to Caesar was is Caesar's (Matthew 22, Mark 12)

- Sadducees, who denied resurrection, question Jesus on what would happen in heaven to a woman who had seven successive husbands (Matthew 22, Mark 12)

- Weird bit on how David is not the Lord's son (Matthew 22, Mark 12)

- Jesus condemns scribes (Matthew 23, Mark 12)

108dchaikin
Aug 18, 2018, 3:31pm Top

Luke Chapter 21 synoptic apocalypse

- on widow who contributes two copper coins (Mark 12)

- 21:5-36 synoptic apocalypse (Matthew 24, Mark 13). This is a prophecy that foretells the destruction of Jerusalem, the persecution of Christians and the second coming.

- Jesus foretells destruction of the temple to those admiring its beauty

- when Jesus is asks for the signs, he points to wars and insurrections, earthquakes, famines, plagues, signs from heaven and persecution. "So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls."

- continues his answer with another foretelling of the destruction of Jerusalem

- Then a dire warning on the second coming: "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

- the fig tree again. Here Jesus says these signs will come like how a sprouting fig tree shows summer is coming. So, he insists, be ready.

109dchaikin
Aug 18, 2018, 4:22pm Top

Luke Chapter 22 - The last supper. A lot to cover

- contradictions in the preparation for Passover. Judas confers with the priests and scribes on how to get Jesus condemned, while Jesus sends Peter and John Zebedee to prepare of the Passover dinner.

- The Passover dinner with Jesus talking over the wine, and the bread and, oddly, the win again. My notes say this is a second cup of wine because this is Passover the the Seder calls for four. I'm tempted to think this is another awkward aspect of Luke. Anyway, he finished by noting he is about to be betrayed by one of the disciples present

- discussion on who is greatest is, oddly, placed here (Matthew 20, Mark 10)

- Jesus tells Simon/Peter he will deny Jesus. But, he adds, "when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

- Includes the odd line "And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one." This is only in Luke and the meaning is unclear. My study bible thinks even the disciples misunderstood what Jesus meant here.

- The night at Gethsemane (Matthew 26, Mark 14) is here relocated to the Mount of Olives. This time Jesus is much braver. He prays, "‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ " Some versions of Luke add an important line noting Jesus's anguish and how "his sweat became like great drops of blood". I think either way this weakens this whole moment where in Matthew Jesus feels very human. Here, either he never wavers, or he has a very nonhuman breakdown.

- Jesus is arrested in the morning, but, curiously, Judas does not complete his betraying kiss. Jesus tells the leaders of his arrest, "But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!" That is only in Luke.

- Peter, confronted on the way to the high priest's house, deny's he follows Jesus and the flees. So, he doesn't witness the trial. !! Since I think Luke has several mistakes through merging stories, I see this as another mistake.

- There is a section here where the people mock and insult Jesus. This is only in Luke. In Matthew and Mark it's the soldiers who mock him, after he is condemned

- The trial of Jesus. When asked if he is the Messiah, he replies. "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer.". For this Jesus is condemned. (Jesus is paraphrasing Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 38, "The king said to Jeremiah, ‘I have something to ask you; do not hide anything from me.’ Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, ‘If I tell you, you will put me to death, will you not? And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.’ ")

110dchaikin
Aug 18, 2018, 4:41pm Top

Luke Chapter 23 Pilate and crucifixion

- Pilate is skeptical Jesus committed any crime. Oddly, he sends Jesus to Herod Antipas (only in Luke). Herod tries to get Jesus to speak so that he will gain a prophecy, but Jesus remains silent. So Herod puts a nice robe on Jesus and sends him back. This heals a rift between Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate. (In Matthew and Mark, the mocking soldiers provide the robe and then take it away).

- Pilate now wants Jesus flogged and released, but crowds force him to release another (Barabbas) and crucify Jesus instead (I didn't say this earlier, but it brings back Life of Brian to me)

- Crucifixion (Matthew 27, Mark 15).
- Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry the cross.
- Jesus foretells doom to the crowds (only in Luke)
- Jesus is crucified with two others. He is mocked by soldiers, the crowed and one of the other condemned getting crucified. But, in Luke only, the other condemned defends Jesus as innocent and asks Jesus to remember him.

- Jesus's death: In Matthew and Mark, Jesus says, memorably, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?". Not so here! In Luke he says, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Because in Luke this isn't a sad event, and Jesus can't have any weakness. This is all part of the plan and it's all good. I find Luke weird in this.

- Joseph of Arimathea buries Jesus in his family tomb, as the women disciples witness. Then all leave for the Sabbath, leaving the body unobserved.

111dchaikin
Aug 18, 2018, 5:00pm Top

Luke Chapter 25 - resurrection

Luke is unique in having a very elaborate and interesting resurrection.

- After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary mother of James return to the tomb and find it empty. Two men are there "in dazzling clothes", and they tell the women, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen." - hence, I presume, the Easter Sunday signs I see around my neighborhood. The women go tell the men disciples, the 11, who don't believe them (not the first instance of Biblical sexism). Peter goes to look for himself. He finds only linen clothes and gets it, he's amazed.

- As I mentioned above, Drury and some other experts think the men in dazzling clothes are intended to be Moses and Elijah.

- We're not done

- The Walk to Emmaus : Jesus, in disguise, joins two men heading to Emmaus. The tone is back to that of the casual one of the opening chapters. Jesus asks the men what they are talking about, and the men explain, amazed he doesn't know, they are discussing the "things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel." And so on. Jesus calls them foolish, and lectures them how this was all necessary for the Messiah to enter glory. Then, later, he allows them to recognize him and he disappears.

- Then Jesus appears to the eleven disciples, openly. He shows them he is real, and even eats fish with them. Then he spoke to them, and "opened their minds to understand the scriptures".

- Then Jesus leads his disciples to Bethany, blesses them, and rises to heaven in Ascension.

"And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God."

112dchaikin
Aug 18, 2018, 5:53pm Top

That finishes my chapter-by-chapter notes on Luke.

I'll add a few comments that I thought about while writing these:

- Luke feels more like a mixture of texts than either Matthew or Luke. The tones don't mesh well to me. And I suspect it has several flaws in the flow where plot points and sayings are awkwardly inserted, out of order, or duplicated.

- Luke seems to be the happy emendation. In my ongoing idea, Mark is an original root collection of sayings and events, and, because of this, feels a little random, and doesn't have a good flow. Matthew is a reworking of the text that solves these problems. The editors seems to have worked over the whole book with some strong book-wide themes worked in. But some of these themes and a lot of the details could make readers uncomfortable. Why would the son of God despair? Why would Jesus argue with his own closest followers and lose patience with them. Luke seems later then both. I envision Luke as an effort simplify the text and rework aspect that might make some followers uncomfortable. Or, if you like, Luke is dumbed down in order to attract a wider audience. I say this because Luke has a simplified more straight-forward plot flow and has removed some of the subtle book-wide themes of Matthew. And because all the human frailty aspects of Matthew are removed. In Luke, Jesus never despairs, he always feels positive, his disciples are never foolish and he doesn't struggle with them to understand. And, finally, in Luke, Jesus goes joyfully to his crucifixion.

- But Luke does have some strengths. Written the way it is, editors could fairly easily insert plot additions, especially to the beginning and end, which is what they did extensively and in interesting ways.

- Luke had a lot of trouble with John the Baptist. The opening, which is maybe silly, is ok except that I think John should be older. But, the rest of the John the Baptist sections are minimal and feel like after-thought insertions. They break the flow, and really important plot points are mentioned in single lines, in hindsight - like his imprisonment and beheading.

- Overall I don't like Luke mainly because it pulls out all the aspects I liked best about Matthew.

113dchaikin
Sep 1, 2018, 8:35pm Top

John 1 King James Version (KJV)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

114dchaikin
Edited: Sep 19, 2018, 5:13pm Top

John - an introduction

I think it's safe to say that John opens with the most memorable line in the bible, old or new testament. It's a line that stays with you for its word play and pure absolutism, and also line that doesn't make sense, or does make absolute sense, depending on your perspective.

I just finished The Gospel According to John today and it's an oddball book coming after the other three gospels. John is the story remade, and feels fresh in a number of ways. It has an emphasis on coded wording - the word, the light, I am, or was. It's a secret language in a lot of ways, making me wonder about it's relationship to the Orphic cults. It has most of the basic stuff of the other gospels, even if some striking parts are missing and other parts are worked in in different places, and have different meanings. Frank Kermode argues it's the Gospel where the author had the most control over what they were doing with this text. I think that leaves an overstated sense, since large portions feel inserted, making for confusing sequences of events, back and forth. But in that opening section, posted above, the writing is poetry. For whatever it may be trying to do, the word play and pace (lost in the NRSV, but captured reasonably in the KJV) and overall sense is poetry, the purpose done through poetry. And while nothing in the rest of the book approaches that kind of sense, there are large stretches where the Gospel According to John is its own powerful thing, in control and leaving a reader maybe a little uncomfortable, but paying attention.

115dchaikin
Sep 1, 2018, 8:53pm Top

"In the beginning there were no words. In the beginning was the sound, and they all knew what that sound sounded like."

That's Toni Morrison, from Beloved. For what it's worth, John tells us the author was the beloved disciple, one who is never named in the book but who is often referred as "the disciple Jesus loved"

116dchaikin
Edited: Sep 2, 2018, 1:00pm Top

some notes from wikipedia - part 1 of 2

- Johannine literature - yes, that's a thing - includes this gospel, Revelations, and three epistles, all of which have some relations in style and content that unique to them.

- Old text fragments imply these were among the most influential texts early in Christianity.

- The book tells us the author is the "disciple whom Jesus love", and traditionally this is John Zebedee, one of the disciples.

- Scholarship sees two to three stages, or "editions" before the final form and dates the composition to 90-110 ce. Wikipedia likes Ephesus, now in modern Turkey, as the place of composition, and specifically they like the idea of the author being one John of Ephesus. But don't take that too seriously, the authorship is essentially unknown in time, place or personages.

- There are several aspects unique to John, and they include the Wedding in Cana (where Jesus turns water into wine), the Samaritan woman as the well, the prologue, and the farewell discourses. And, ETA, the resurrection of Lazarus, and the Pharisee Nicodemus.

- "the word" is a translation of Greek Logos, and has no exact translation. In ancient Greek philosophy (ancient even then) it referred to a principle of cosmic reason (hence, I think, "logic"). Philo, a Roman era Jewish philosopher, tied the idea of logos with that of Wisdom, or Lady Wisdom, an almost goddess in Proverbs, and came out with logos as "God's creator of and mediator with the material world" (quoting Wikipedia). John uses the word likely with all this in mind, but not in exact agreement.

- Wikipedia sees four parts:

--- 1. 1:1 to 1:18 - The prologue (posted in full in >113 dchaikin:)

--- 2. 1:19 to 12:50 - The book of Signs, which covers Jesus's public earthly mission, including his baptism, selection of the disciples, and his all his interaction with crowds of followers or individual followers

--- 3. 13:1 to 20:31 - The Book of Glory, which includes the last supper, and the farewell discourses with the disciples, the Passion, and resurrection and a conclusion "that {the reader} may believe that Jesus is the Christ..."

--- 4. 21 - Epilogue - generally considered an addition, and includes the self identification of the author as the beloved disciple

- There are 7 signs and 7 "I am" sayings (which tie to Exodus)

- Like Luke, the Crucifixion is a good thing here, a glorification that Jesus looks forward to. When he says he will be lifted up, it's a double meaning of ascension, but also being raised on the cross (and common coded reference in John)

- John is tied with Gnostic elements based on his language, especially the coded words logos and light. Gnostics believed that salvation came from gnosis - or secret knowledge, and that Jesus was the revealer of knowledge. However, much of this wording is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls too, which predate John.

117dchaikin
Edited: Sep 2, 2018, 1:41pm Top

some notes from wikipedia - part 2 of 2

- Johannine vs Petrine corpus (yes, this is a thing)

--- John lacks Baptism by John the Baptist, the calling of the 12 disciples, exorcism, parables, the transfiguration, the major sermons (although it has its own) and the Last Supper (although it has something similar, before Passover)

--- John adds, as I mentioned above, the Wedding at Cana and the turning of water into wine, Nicodemus (the Pharisee on the fence), the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, multiple visits to Jerusalem, and two new disciples - Nathaniel and Thomas. Also, John takes three years, whereas in the other gospels, Jesus's earthly mission only takes a year... (which is pretty amazing, if accurate)

--- John does longer quotations, emphasizes signs over miracles, and inserts allegories, while removing the parables.

--- In John, it was the raising of Lazarus that leads to the crucifixion. In the other gospels, it was Jesus's cleansing of the temple.

--- And, in John, the Pharisees are not a single entity, but a group, including Nicodemus, that is divided into multiple conflicting opinions.

--- theologically, Wikipedia emphasized some points that weren't obvious to me. Here in John Jesus is always open about his identity, whereas in the other gospels he tries to hide it until near the end. And John reworks the second coming by having Jesus claim an Advocate, or Spirit of Truth, or Holy Spirit is coming. The phrase Spirit of Truth is found in the Dead Sea Scroll, but not in the other gospels. Anyway, overall, this seems to amount to a de-emphasis of the second coming. (That wasn't really impression I got.) And, there is an emphasis on the individual's relationship to Jesus, and Judgment (again, not something I picked up on, myself)

118dchaikin
Edited: Sep 2, 2018, 1:41pm Top

notes from The Literary Guide to the Bible, here by Frank Kermode

Kermode is interested in how difficult John is to understand and to place within the Christian tradition. St. Augustine said, roughly, "we understand this difficult work only according to our restricted capacities" (quoting Kermode). And scholarship was convinced John was intimately linked to certain forms of Gnosticism, until The Dead Sea scrolls were found and undermined this idea (because they already contained the ideas and phrases)

He spends a lot of time on the prologue (see >113 dchaikin:) and comes up with a really insightful but difficult to summarize essay, emphasizing the poetry. After discussing much of the coded language, especially the key words "was and "became", and also "word", "god", "light" & "life", and how they used in different complex and interacting ways, he writes, "No doubt the implications of these special senses will in the end by theological, but the means are poetic." And he concludes, "The threshold quality, the liminality of the poem is now deepened into myth, and the myth is dressed in representations of actuality. Jordan is an archetypal threshold. Crossing over its water is baptism; the dove that descends is a figure not only of the spirit from above but also of that pnuema that brooded over the formless waste of waters in the beginning, at the great threshold between darkness and light. The ladder by which the angels will descend and reascend (as Jesus will tell Nathanael) is another bridge between chaos and spirit."

He writes "Few would deny that John of all the evangelists has the strongest grasp on what he doing.'"

119dchaikin
Sep 2, 2018, 1:47pm Top

notes from the Harper Collins Study Bible introduction:

- the "spiritual gospel"

- emphasis on symbolism, shades of meaning, irony and paradox - Jesus is misunderstood in ways that open up new meanings.

- sees chapters 15-17 (the farewell discourses) and chapter 21 (the epilogue) as later additions

- like John of Ephesus as the author, dating fro 90-120 ce

- notes parallels to Dead Sea Scrolls, gnostics and "corpus Hermeticus",

- Points out that book seems to state itself that the communal ideas of Jesus changed after his lifetime.

120dchaikin
Sep 2, 2018, 2:12pm Top

John Chapter 1

- The prologue is maybe the most powerful part of the bible, and the most memorable part (see >113 dchaikin:) - where "the Word became flesh", and "He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him."

- The Testimony of John the Baptist - coming right after where John the Baptist is characterized as "He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light." This textually humbled John has more coming. He is introduced in to the story as he is questioned by Pharisees and religious leaders and tells them:
"'I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said,
‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord” ’,
as the prophet Isaiah said.
"

John is tied down to the point where he is asked, well then, who are you?

- Then John introduces Jesus, "‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" - immediately tying Jesus into Passover. Jesus is the pascal sacrifice. Then John explains that he is witness to Jesus being baptized by Holy Spirit.

- Then two of John's disciples begin to follow Jesus (leaving John, of course), Andrew and one who is not named. And Andrew brings in his brother, Simon Peter. Then Jesus pick up Philip and Nathanael. Nathanael says, skeptically, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" And Jesus tells Nathanael, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" These lines seem playful, but they are criticisms against Nazareth and Jews in general. This gospel will emphasize tensions between Jesus's followers and Jews.

- And this gospel is off to quite a start.

121dchaikin
Sep 2, 2018, 4:56pm Top

side note

John has highlights and less interesting parts, and I'll try to reflect that in my notes. Chapters 1-4 - highlights throughout. Best part of the book. Chapter 5-10 - meh, a lot of stuff mixed in from other gospels. Chapters 11-14 - very difficult because so many coded lines. Chapters 15-17 - possibly the main purpose of the book! Theological stuff (farewell dialogues). Chapters 18-21 - John's passion, plot heavy.

If possible, I'll try to keep the notes heavy in chapters 1-4 and 15-17, try to constrain 11-14 (may not be possible), and streamline the rest.

122dchaikin
Sep 2, 2018, 5:14pm Top

John Chapter 2

- The Wedding at Canna.

--- Jesus and his disciples are invited to this wedding (without clear context) and they run out of wine.
When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’
That's a little odd, but anyway he directs some servants to fill jars with water, and it becomes very good wine. This surprises the wine steward, because the good wind is supposed to come first, here it comes late. This is the first sign (of seven).

--- Meaning is open ended, of course, especially after 2000 years. Whose wedding? Suggestions ranges from our author's wedding (and therefore John the Evangelist, son of Zebedee) to Jesus's polygamous wedding to Mary Magdalene, Martha and Mary of Bethany.(!!). But the original meaning was likely along the lines as saying Jesus is the good wine that comes at the end of the limpid history of prophets. And, where Moses, the good wine at the beginning, turned water to blood in the plagues, Jesus counters with this. ("For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." - prologue. See above, >113 dchaikin:)

- Jesus Cleanses the Temple

--- counter to the other three Gospels, Jesus is doing this up front, in an earlier visit to Jerusalem, and, also only here, he's doing it with a whip.

--- ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ - Not actually a sign, this is only a promise.

123dchaikin
Sep 2, 2018, 5:41pm Top

John Chapter 3

- discussion with Nicodemus

Nicodemus, a Pharisee, visits Jesus and questions him. A convoluted, somewhat philosophical, and largely coded conversation ensue. Essentially, this is Jesus's message to the hypothetical person who is on the fence and an excuse to explain Jesus's mission. It's also the origin of the concept of a born again Christian - the Greek phrase "born from above" can also mean born a new, or reborn, a double meaning of the sort John loves.

--- misunderstanding and double meaning are played on:
" ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.”"
--- Nicodemus is not a villain here, he's a Pharisee, but on the fence, unwilling to commit. He gets heavily criticized, but also, he represents those at least partially open to the message here. He is, if you like, a target audience.

- John the Baptist takes another textual beating

--- When Jesus brings his disciples to the Jordan to be baptized, a Jew confronts John, who is also baptizes. Roughly, he's saying, why would anyone get baptized by you when they can go to Jesus and roughly John is saying, yeah, I know. But that's only my translation, of sorts. : )

--- But John's actual response is basically a summary of Jesus's response to Nicodemus, a second explanation who Jesus is and what he's doing.

124dchaikin
Sep 2, 2018, 5:57pm Top

John Chapter 4

- Jesus and the Woman of Samaria meet at a well.

--- In the OT, when a man meets a woman at a well, a marriage of some sort is going to happen. There is some sort of sexual implication in this (that I haven't exactly figured out).

--- So, here, there are tensions. There's the sexual tension of Jesus meeting this woman alone at the well and asking for a drink. And Samaritans don't like Jews and vice versa, and they are gentiles. And, this happens to be Jacob's well, bringing in a key OT reference. John loves Jacob's ladder, but is a mixed on Jacob, who is also Israel.

--- But, alas, this is Jesus. He plays it off. And this woman not only walks away converted, but she converts all the other Samaritans to Messianic Jews...I mean, Christians.

--- The story is playful and much better than what I've put here. You can read it yourself here: http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=402924998

- Jesus is welcomed back at the Galilee

- Jesus heals the son a royal official in Cana - John's version of the Centurion's servant (Matthew 8, Luke 7). This the second sign, but it also announces the closure of John's best part. We're on the well paved trail of the other gospels now, even if John doesn't honor their details.

--- Before healing Jesus talks to the official and say to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ Then he heals. I think that line leaves a sense that he heals because he has to. It's a sort of political move.

125dchaikin
Edited: Sep 2, 2018, 6:13pm Top

John Chapter 5

Back in Jerusalem at a festival Jesus heals an invalid on the Sabbath (as in the other gospels) and commands him to stand up and walk. And he does (like in Mark). This is the third sign, and it leads to tensions. Jews are angry at Jesus for the healing on the Sabbath and because he's calling himself the son of God (openly, in contrast to the other gospels). The are so angry they want to kill Jesus. Jesus responds with a lengthy sermon.

- This sermon takes Judgment itself and transfers it onto Jesus.
"The Father judges no one but has given all judgement to the Son..."
- And John the Baptist still can't catch a break.
"He {John the Baptist} was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But I have a testimony greater than John’s."
- parting shot at Jews
"If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me."

126dchaikin
Sep 2, 2018, 6:19pm Top

side note:

The seven signs are:

1. Changing water into wine at Cana in John 2:1-11 - "the first of the signs"
2. Healing the royal official's son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54
3. Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-15
4. Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
5. Jesus walking on water in John 6:16-24
6. Healing the man blind from birth in John 9:1-7
7. The raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45

The seven occurrences Jesus using "I Am" in a sort of double meaning reference to being God, are:

1. I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35)
2. I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)
3. I am the Door (John 10:9)
4. I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)
5. I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
6. I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
7. I am the Vine (John 15:1,5)

127dchaikin
Sep 3, 2018, 11:35am Top

John Chapter 6

Jesus, who was just in Jerusalem, starts by crossing the Sea of Galilee to Tiberias, illustrating that this is a cut up work. It makes more sense, geographically, if chapter 5 & 6 are flipped. (But, it could just be the nature of how these writings were compiled.)

- John's version of Jesus feeding the 5000 (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 - the 4th sign

- then, as the disciples cross the sea to another location, Jesus catches up by walking on water (Matthew 14, Mark 6) - the 5th sign

- Some strained back and forth discussion between crowd and Jesus about bread from heaven leads Jesus to make some proclamations. He (apparently in some frustration) says "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty". But the discussion goes on, the Jesus seems to get firmer and more insistent: ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them...'

- "I am the bread of life" is the first key, "I am" statement, a referencing the burning bush in Exodus 3:14: Moses asks for God's name, and God (or Yahweh) replies, "I am who I am."

128dchaikin
Sep 3, 2018, 11:54am Top

John Chapter 7

- Jesus is a man on the run, wanted in Judea, where the leadership is centered and wants him captured and killed.

- As Sukkot (the Festival of Booths) approaches, Jesus's brothers encourage Jesus to return to Judea. This request is followed by the line "For not even his brothers believed in him." hmm

- Despite telling his brothers it's not the time, Jesus goes to Judea anyway, first in secret. He finds people are looking for him, but secretly. So, he comes out openly and gives a lecture.

- The Pharisees try to arrest him, but can't. (Jesus is in control, so they can't capture him until he wants them to.)

- Jesus continues to make appearances, saying on the last day "Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water."

- The crowds response is divided. Turns out, those sent to arrest Jesus kind of liked what he said and didn't act to arrest, frustrating the Jewish leadership. Nicodemus makes an appearance here, essentially asking for a trial of Jesus (he means a fair trial) and he gets mocked for even considering that Jesus could actually be the Messiah.

129dchaikin
Sep 3, 2018, 12:07pm Top

John Chapter 8 throwing stones and how the truth will set you free

- the next morning the Pharisees bring Jesus a woman caught in adultery and ask what he will do. Will he stone here, and follow the law? He responds, famously, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’. She is let free. Sadly this story is later insertion and doesn't exist in the earliest manuscripts. (It's also only in John)

- back and forth between Pharisees and Jesus

--- Jesus: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’
--- Pharisees ‘You are testifying on your own behalf...'
--- and so on

- "Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’"

- curiously, this goes wrong. First, these listeners balk at this assessment saying they aren't slaves and don't seen to be set free. Jesus tells them they are slaves to sin. Tensions escalate and by the time we are done, these "believers" are throwing stones at Jesus!!

- not the inverted parallels - Opens with a stoning threat, and a truth did set the woman free. Then when Jesus tells his followers the truth will set them free, they end up throwing stones.

130dchaikin
Edited: Sep 3, 2018, 4:57pm Top

John Chapter 9 - healing a blind man

Forty-one verses on Jesus healing a blind man (by mixing his saliva with mud and applying it to the man's eyes), and then this man's persecution by the Pharisees, betrayal by his own parents, and finally exile until he meets Jesus again. Includes the line, "I was blind, now i see." Probably should be read as a representation of the Christian community. (enlightenment, persecution and exile) - 6th sign

John Chapter 10 -

- Jesus gives a sermon describing himself as the Good Shepherd and keeper of the gate-

---I am the Door - 3rd I am
---I am the Good Shepherd - 4th I Am

- At the Festival of Dedication (Hanukkah) Jesus has another argument with Jewish leadership who wants to stone him, and Jesus must flee across the Jordan to a place called Bethany (but not, confusingly, the Bethany by Jerusalem ??)

131dchaikin
Sep 3, 2018, 5:20pm Top

John Chapter 11 - Jesus bring Lazarus back to life

In the other Bethany, the one just outside Jerusalem, Lazarus is with his sisters, Mary and Martha and he's dying. Jesus hears the news and delays coming. He waits two days, while Lazarus dies, then he travels to this other Bethany (a dangerous move)

First he meets Martha (who should be with Lazarus mourning) and who tells him he could have saved Lazarus if had been there. Jesus says, basically, don't worry, " ‘I am the resurrection and the life." (the 5th I am)

Then Mary rushes out to confront Jesus and she also tells him he could have saved Lazarus and she breaks down in tears. Jesus breaks down himself and starts to cry - a rare and moving moment of humanity in John (we haven't really had anything like this since Gethsamane in Matthew)

At Lazarus's tomb, Jesus "cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’" - the 7th and final sign

This is the last straw for the Jewish leadership, who say, "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him." They commit to having Jesus put to death, and ultimately they will succeed--bringing Lazarus back to life leads directly to Jesus's execution. But first Jesus escapes to "a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness"

And now Passover it coming, we are nearing the end.

There are several odd aspects here that bother me, including:
-- Why are there two Bethanys?
-- Mary is introduced with the line "Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair" - but Mary hasn't done this yet. It comes next.
-- Why is Jesus so insistent on letting Lazarus die? (I know, theological point, but it's still odd)
-- And why is this miracle the one that sets the Pharisees off their rocker?

132dchaikin
Sep 3, 2018, 5:59pm Top

John Chapter 12

This is a tough chapter. I'll go through step by step.

- first Mary anoints Jesus's feet with nard and then wipes them with her hair. (Mark 14, Luke 7). Judas complains, which is unique here.

- Jewish leadership targets Lazarus as well as Jesus

- Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem with Hosanna's (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 9)

- "His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him." - this line is essentially saying that Christian ideas were changed and re-defined after Jesus's death.

- Some Greeks approach the disciples wanting to see Jesus. When they finally see him, Jesus gives them some coded advice that seems to amount to believing his Jesus and sacrificing for this belief.

- ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour...' - This line here, made to his followers, takes the place of Gethsemane in the other gospels. Here is where Jesus stands at the brink of what's coming. In the other Gospels, this kind of emotional hesitation takes place the night after the last supper and before Jesus is arrested.

- this is followed with some unusual public dialogue between Jesus, and the father from heaven and the crowd.

-then Jesus departs and there is some commentary:
Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

     ‘Lord, who has believed our message,
     and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’

And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,

     ‘He has blinded their eyes
     and hardened their heart,
     so that they might not look with their eyes,
     and understand with their heart and turn—
     and I would heal them.’
- then:
Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.
- That's Nicodemus.

- then
Then Jesus cried aloud: ‘Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.
- Now, that's odd because Jesus has already departed, and yet he is crying out to followers again. But, more importantly, this and the few lines that follow (on Judgment) are the last things Jesus says publicly. The rest is said only to his disciples and to those who arrest and question him.

133dchaikin
Edited: Sep 5, 2018, 7:08am Top

John Chapter 13

John's Last Supper. Here, events take place a few days before Passover.

- Jesus washes the feet of the disciples (only in John). Peter protests this is way similar to how he protests Jesus saying he will die in Mark 8.

- while washing Jesus gives the disciples a sermon on how this is what he wants them to do, roughly serve their followers in this humbled manner. This is a theme he carries through chapter 17.

- Then Jesus announces he will be a betrayed (like in the Last Supper elsewhere). Here he then hands Judas bread and says, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ It's apparently subtle enough that the other disciples don't catch on. But Judas leaves and misses the whole farewell discourse.

- After Judas leaves, Jesus gives a new commandment, 'love one another.' This is not exactly the golden rule (Leviticus 19:18, but also Mark 12). But, much more significantly, this contradicts the love your enemies theme emphasized in Matthew 5 (and in Luke 6). It's not about loving everybody, it's a Christians-only love.

- Then Jesus predicts Peter's denial (Mark 14, Luke 22. The actual denial doesn't happen till chapter 18)

ETA - here is the first appearance of the Beloved Disciple (see >138). He is reclining rather intimately beside Jesus, and asks Jesus who it is that will betray him.

ETA 2 : The phrase interpreted as "while reclining next to Jesus", literally says "while leaning on Jesus's chest"

134dchaikin
Edited: Sep 4, 2018, 7:23am Top

John Chapter 14 beginning of farewell discourses

- This all starts with Jesus giving the disciples roughly a pep talk: 'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.'

- first Thomas: 'How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. (6th I am)

- then Philip: ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ (At this I can only imagine Jesus taking a moment to sigh.) Jesus responds ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? (Come on, Philip!)

- then it gets weird

- Jesus here promises another Advocate - this Spirit of Truth. This is something only for the disciples (and believers) because if you don't know the Truth (Jesus) how can you receive the Spirit of the Truth...or something.

- (The phrase the Spirit of Truth is not found elsewhere in the gospels, and I think was long thought to have come from John. But it is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls)

- This deserved a question. "Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’" Jesus doesn't really have an good answer (IMHO)

- eventually Jesus explains: ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.'

- Then: 'I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.'

- "the ruler of this world" = the devil

- So, that sounds like a closing. But these discourse keep going for three more chapters. Many assume that chapters 15-17 are later insertions.

- But, what's with this Advocate? My study bible explains this is John's version of the Second Coming (OK), but it actually reduces the significance of this event. (hmm ??)

135dchaikin
Edited: Sep 4, 2018, 8:33am Top

John Chapter 15

- ‘I am the true vine...' (7th I am...and, since he basically says it twice, actually also the 8th I am)

- the grape vine becomes an extended metaphor for this belief system, with believers being healthy branches who bear fruit, and God weeding out the bad branches (which are thrown in the fire)

- ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." - he's talking to his disciples and what he's saying is, roughly, sacrifice.

- Then Jesus gives a speech on the worlds hatred, foretelling the persecution of Christians. (Matthew 10 and Mark 13)

136dchaikin
Sep 4, 2018, 8:48am Top

John Chapter 16

Jesus continues, to his disciples...

- 'Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.' - this line just caught my attention

- more on Jesus going away and the Advocate coming

- Then some back on and forth on the coded language Jesus uses to say he is going for "a little while" and how their pain will turn to joy. Disciples don't get it. Jesus tries to explain using childbirth as an example.

- 'Ask and you will receive... (Mark 7, Luke 11). Here Jesus means roughly that he will return to the world through the work of his believers.

- Jesus says he has talked in "figures of speech" (i.e. in code) and now he will talk plainly. The disciples are grateful and tell him how well they now understand, and then kind of get it wrong. (They say, 'Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.’ But there is no "by this", it just, believe. Jesus responds, ‘Do you now believe?')

137dchaikin
Sep 5, 2018, 6:55am Top

John Chapter 17

Jesus prayers on behalf of the disciples. It's not a poem, but it reads like psalm in structure - a stylized request for a favor from God. This is where the Garden of Gethsamane would be in the other gospels. The Study Bible notes parallels to the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6, Luke 11). This closes the Farewell Discourses.

138dchaikin
Edited: Sep 5, 2018, 7:04am Top

side note - the Beloved Disciple

The phrase "the disciple whom Jesus loved" or, in John 20:2, the disciple beloved of Jesus is used six times in the Gospel of John, but in no other gospel

Traditionally, he as been identified as John the Evangelist, or John Zebedee, but there is actually not reason to make this identification.

Six references:

1. The disciple who, while reclining beside Jesus at the Last Supper, asks Jesus who it is that will betray him, after being requested by Peter to do so.{Jn 13:23-25}

2. At the crucifixion, Jesus tells his mother, "Woman, here is your son", and to the Beloved Disciple he says, "Here is your mother."{Jn 19:26-27}

3. When Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb, she runs to tell the Beloved Disciple and Peter. The two men rush to the empty tomb and the Beloved Disciple is the first to reach it. However, Peter is the first to enter.{Jn 20:1-10}

4. In the last chapter, the Beloved Disciple is one of seven fishermen involved in the miraculous catch of 153 fish.{Jn 21:1-25}

5. Also in the final chapter, after an arisen Jesus implies the manner in which Peter will die, Peter sees the Beloved Disciple following them and asks, "What about him?" Jesus answers, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."{John 21:20-23}

6. Again in the last chapter, it states that the very book itself is based on the written testimony of the disciple whom Jesus loved.{John 21:24}

--- going back to edit chapter 13...

139dchaikin
Edited: Sep 5, 2018, 7:19am Top

John Chapter 18 - begin Passion narrative

- Judas leads the arrest of Jesus
--- Jesus actually directs his own arrest.
--- When Jesus tells the group he is Jesus ("I am he", but not of the seven I ams), the group steps back and falls to the ground in reverence. Then continue their arrest.
--- Simon cuts off the ear of one Malchus. Jesus berates him, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?’ (the cup line is in Matthew 14)

- First Jesus is brought before Annas, an ex-high priest

- An unnamed disciple is allowed in to witness, and helps Simon Peter get in (but Simone Peter must verbally deny Jesus once). This unnamed disciple could be the Beloved one.

- Then Jesus is sent to the active high priest, Caiaphas (and Simon Peter denies twice Jesus twice more)

- Then Jesus is sent before Pontius Pilate. There are seven scenes

--- scene 1 - Jesus handed to Pilate by a crowd of Jewish leadership

--- scene 2 - first interview:
"Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’"
--- scene 3 - Back before the crowed. Pilate announces he finds no case against Jesus an asks that he be released. The crowd of Jewish leaders refuse (and select Barabbas to be released instead)

140dchaikin
Sep 5, 2018, 7:42am Top

John Chapter 19

--- scene 4 - Pilate has Jesus flogged and dressed in a crown of thorns and purple robe, then soldiers mock him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’. This flogging was probably lethal.

--- scene 5 - Pilate presents this mocked and dying Jesus to the crowd on leaders, announcing he has no case against him. The crown demands Jesus be crucified according to their law because "he has claimed to be the Son of God"

--- scene 6 - that last line makes Pilate nervous.
"He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. 10Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ 11Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above..."
--- scene 7 - Jesus handed over to be crucified during the preparation for Passover.

- Crucifixion - lots of details

--- Jesus his placed with an inscription, King of the Jews: "The chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’"

--- Five watch him - his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and "the disciple whom he loved him"

--- (I've been wondering about the homosexual implication of the Beloved Disciple. But, it just occurs to me here that this beloved disciple could be a woman, and hence standing with these four other women. That could make her into Jesus's lover, which actually makes a lot of sense in various ways - but, of course, not religiously. Also, she would then be the author of this book.)

--- Jesus says, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

--- Jesus is pierced in the side

--- he is buried by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus in a garden with a tomb in which no one had been lain. There is maybe a Garden of Eden parallel implied.

141dchaikin
Sep 5, 2018, 7:52am Top

John Chapter 20 - resurrection

- Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb and brings Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved

- Then Mary has a vision: First she sees two angels, then the gardener appears and, in tears, she appeals to him to tell her where they have take the body. Then the gardener becomes Jesus himself. She announces, ‘I have seen the Lord’.

- but, in the book, it's not actually a vision, but part of the plot

- Jesus appears before the disciples, minus Thomas. "he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’"

- Thomas shows up afterward and doesn't believe them - the doubting Thomas

- Jesus returns again a week later, and this time Thomas physically touches him.

- Then, the book's purpose:
"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name."


142dchaikin
Sep 5, 2018, 8:51am Top

sorry, I'm still thinking of the idea of the Beloved Disciple as a woman, lover of Jesus and our author.

Of course, it's come up. Googling, I see Mary Magdalene as possibly the Beloved Disciple (and more often cited as one of the weird ideas proposed). And, it seems, Life of Brian may have played off this idea as well. So, it's not a unique or especially insightful idea, but it's one I only just thought about this am and it demands a rethinking of key aspects of the story and, particularly, of this book.

anyway...

143dchaikin
Sep 5, 2018, 9:05am Top

John Chapter 21

- Miraculous catch - Jesus appears off the "Sea of Tiberias" (meaning, I guess, along the coast of the Galilee by Tiberias) and helps 7 disciples who are fishing and having no luck (Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, both Zebedees, our unnamed Beloved Disciple, and another unnamed). With Jesus they catch 153 fish and have breakfast. This is a stretched variation on Luke 5.

- The 153 isn't clear. Wikipedia points to the 153,000 strangers in the census of Solomon (2 Chronicles 2:17) - hence a coded reference to conversion of gentiles. It then notes there are a lot theories and pretty much no one believes any of them.

- Jesus then asks Simon Peter three times if he loves him. Then calls him to care for his sheep.

- a brief back and forth between Jesus and Peter which roughly means, or may mean, that Peter should follow Jesus (ie in martyrdom) and the Beloved Disciple should stay (ie live a long time)

- then, the second and final closing :
"This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

144tonikat
Sep 6, 2018, 4:06am Top

Dan, what a thread! I will refer to it often. I did start with Matthew, but have never got through and want to.

145dchaikin
Sep 6, 2018, 7:22am Top

Hi Kat, appreciate the comment. Much to do yet...

146dchaikin
Sep 6, 2018, 7:58am Top

Some thoughts on John:

Trying to reflect on John, my mind goes to the big picture. To gospels together, and then how John fits in.

I have some appreciation for the ordering of these four gospels. It would have made more sense if Mark was put in front, but Mark isn't all that powerful on it's own, it's a bit random. So Matthew goes in front because it's the most moving, the most human Jesus. It's maybe subtle, and you have to think through or disregard and work in somehow the miracles, but Matthew's Jesus is one the reader can relate to. He's not really divine, he's just really passionate, and committed and ultimately tragic. I say this because of the Sermon on the Mount, and because I really got a sense of a Jesus struggling with a movement that was failing, and one he saved by sacrificing his life, and I get the sense of a moment of decision, and, at Gethsamane, a serious moment of doubt. Luke looses all of that, it's a stylized Jesus free of flaws who goes joyfully to his crucifixion.

John is on another plain of thought. His Jesus has some weaponry of word power, especially in that opening. This Jesus is separate, distinct from the humanity around him. He is always secure in his thoughts, place and purpose. But he has some human elements. He has feelings, he cries over others, he seriously might have a lover, who may be male. But also, he commands his own death and confidently goes through with it. John, on its own, demands a certain kind of follower. It works well within the context of secret societies and whatever that entails. But as a bookend to the four gospels, its affect becomes much broader. John offers a counter to Matthew and, irregardless of the details of that counter, that in and of itself vastly broadens who these books can reach. Ultimately, I think Matthew is most what we, in the west, consider Christianity, but these alternate gospels welcome in a much larger variety of viewpoints, and, so far in my reading, John reaches out the farthest.

147dchaikin
Sep 7, 2018, 9:01am Top

Reading through these four gospels, it strikes me how much Jesus is, within the text, primarily a political figure.

The bible seems to never be what I kind of expected it to be. I thought I was taught that Old Testament has some wisdom to impart and that I might expect could lead to some kind of enlightenment. But, in actuality, it's just a random collection of writings and stories. There is less there than I think most of us are led to believe. This is, of course, only true from a perspective. But in a similar way Jesus does the same thing in the Gospels. We are told this is the son of God, a divine figure brought to earth for enlightenment. And so we might think, goodness, what we will have to say, what does he have to offer. And then we read the books and find it's just a story of someone struggling to create a movement.

I'm not an expert on the politics of that time and place, but it seems we don't really know the details. Basically we know the population was unhappy, in tense relationship with Roman authority, and that the powder keg blew twice - in 66 ce (after Jesus and before these works were written) and again in 132, in the Bar Kokhba Revolt. And so we fill in the details - Messianic figures leading movements to create rebellions to oust the large empires, with mixed and generally poor success from Judas Maccabeus through Jesus and so on until Bar Kokhba. And then we can, we think, reconstruct this idea of Jesus building on another Messianic movement (of John the Bapist), and raising up a popular revolt against authority. We can think he probably railed against Rome, but the books focus on his attacks on the Rome-friendly local Jewish leadership.

This is a perspective, but it works really well. If you are going to fight the ones in power, you need to masses to join you and raise up. So you talk up the poor and outcast and encourage them to get angry and make a fuss - and you have the Sermon on the Mount, the most important part of the gospel. If Jews aren't responding aggressively enough, you find other peoples, Samaritans, local Greeks, whoever is available and get them to reinforce your movement. Christianity becomes a populist rebellion, and Jesus becomes a populist leader. And, perhaps just by tactic, he also becomes the father of social justice, our first social justice warrior.

This Jesus has a lot in common political figures today, especially those trying to generate a popular movement. And I've begun to view these figures, playing for votes, as trying to be Jesus.

148dchaikin
Sep 19, 2018, 5:33pm Top

Acts of the Apostles - an introduction

I've had to build up some momentum just get these notes started. Acts is a continuation of Luke, my least favorite of the gospels. But, unlike Luke, there is no parallel, nothing to compare it to or to qualify its accuracy or origins. It's book about the early spread of Christianity, even if the actual apostles don't play a big role. Instead, Paul takes the center stage - here he was a Jewish leader who persecuted Christians to death until something happened on the road to Damascus. Jesus speaks to him, and Paul converts and becomes a leader in the spread of Christianity, and then of the redirection of the message from Jews to gentiles.

Some oddball aspects of this book are that, Christian persecution leads to the spread of Christianity. The Christian leaders all must flee Jerusalem, but the keep working, just now they are all spread out. Also, we are given several tales of Paul's travels, where he comes to a city, goes to the synagogue, and begins to preach. A split crowd response and often some violence force him out. So, he says something to the effect of: forget these Jews, I'm going to preach to the gentiles. This means we get a travel log throughout much of the eastern empire, where entry to Europe involves a vision, and, later, travel to Rome involves a shipwreck and savoir by the "natives" (of Malta). The final oddball part of this book is how everyday the supernatural becomes. Everyone Paul converts is filled with the Holy Spirit - which clearly has some meaning other than they saw the light or whatnot. It's not that the bible isn't full of supernatural stuff, it's just that it's not always so common place and happening over and over again. So, a book that feels historical but is simplified and supernatural-ized to the point it must be more myth than anything else. I pity anyone trying to find real history here - but clearly there is something of that here.

149dchaikin
Sep 19, 2018, 6:34pm Top

notes from Wikipedia

- Acts covers the founding of the Christian Church and its spread to the Roman Empire (and is the oldest book to use the Greek words for "Christians" and "Church")

- Composed 80-90 ce (like Luke), with edits occurring of the next 100 years. (Ends with Paul's house arrest in Rome, 63 ce)

- Title was given later

- Even though Paul plays a prominent role in the book, many aspects conflict with Paul's letters. Wikipedia says it appears Acts was written without awareness of Paul's letters. (Which apparently were written later)

- parallels to 1 Peter, Letter to Hebrews and 1 Clement

-- chapters 2-12 are "Petrine" on the Jewish Christian church
-- chapters 13-28 are "Pauline" on the mission to gentiles

Structure
1:1-26 - reprise from Luke (entire book of Acts summed in v1:8)
2:1 - 8:1 - Jerusalem
8:2-40 - mission to Samaria and more
9:1-31 - conversion of Paul
9:32 - 12:25 - conversion of Cornelius and formation of Antioch Church (1st use of word "Christian" in 11:26)
13:1 - 14:28 - mission from Antioch
15:1-35 - mission from Antioch confirmed in Jerusalem
15:36 - 28:31 - missions of Paul, eventually to Rome

Theology
- three ages: Law of prophets, Jesus and post-ascension (until 2nd coming)
- message is sent to gentiles because Jews rejected it
- a lot on the Holy Spirit

- The book has no account of the Christian-Roman struggles!! (No Nero throwing Christians to the lions in the Colosseum or whatnot - actually, that is impossible, since the Colosseum was built later.)

150dchaikin
Sep 19, 2018, 7:28pm Top

notes from The Literary Guide to the Bible, chapter written by James M. Robinson

- covers a history of the interpretation of Acts, from when (in the 1800's) it was seen as an effort to synthesize Paul and Jewish Christians (ie - Paul and Peter). In this sense, Acts is a moderation of Paul.

- Acts is notable in that it's not based on oral transmission, but originally written.

- There are odd sections where the narrator says "we", as in, "then we traveled to Athens" or something like that. This has been used argue the writing is a first person account. But this use of "we" was a common Greek literary convention of the time.

- The tone of Acts pulls from Hellenistic literary convention of the period and adds, in places, a "scriptural flavor". Specifically Hellenistic aspects are:
--- it's composed of individual, disconnected episodes, interspersed with vignettes
--- it displays in dramatic narration the points to be made
--- it reworks history - specifically, it by-passes Roman persecution of Christians

- Of course, there are arguments that the speeches are designed to address concerns at the time of composition and not recordings of historical speeches.

- v1:8 outlines the entire book (I'll address this in the notes to chapter 1)

- the power of the implicit - The book deals with an conundrum where it's about the revealed truth for all, and yet, this truth mainly is only revealed to important people. It bridges, or ducks, this problem by never directly stating anything that would show this as a conflict. But, there's more to it than that. The book makes other points in this sort of clear but hidden manner, and some characters pick up on it and some don't (see Festus).

- Paul is defended by Pharisees at one point in the book. Robinson notes this was not possible, they would not have supported Christianity. He argues it's intentionally non-historical.

- So, in sum, Acts was written to make history, rather than to record it.

- And, in doing so, Acts helped paved the way for the later Roman conversion to Christianity.

151dchaikin
Sep 19, 2018, 7:33pm Top

notes from the Harper Collins Study Bible introduction:

- The title is misleading. : ) The actual apostles aren't important, and Paul is not an apostle

- They use the term theological narrative (instead of history)

- Like Luke, the author and the location of writing are unknown. Unlike Luke, Acts has no known sources

- Has a few dramatic flourishes - like the punishment of Ananais and Sapphira, Paul's speech before the king Agrippa and his adventures at sea, including a shipwreck.

- There are parallels to Luke, including the idea of fulfillment of prophecy, the importance of the Holy Spirit and several thematic parallels.

152dchaikin
Sep 19, 2018, 7:52pm Top

Acts Chapter 1

A rather uninteresting chapter with a few fundamental points thrown in

- on the surface, the book summarized the gospel, tells a fate of Judas where his bowels burst, and explains how Matthais is chosen to replace Judas as the 12th apostle (and then is never mentioned again)

- But the books reworks the ascension from three for 40 days and the "kingdom of God" has migrated in meaning from a time of God's reign to a time of Christian preaching...

- And verse 8 summarizes the book: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’"

--- "you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem" - covers Peters Preaching, 2:14-8:3
--- "in all Judea and Samaria" - covers 8:4-25
--- "and to the ends of the earth" - covers Ethiopia (8:26-40), the conversion of the Roman Cornelius (10:1 - 11:18), and then follows Paul to Rome (most of the rest of the book)

153dchaikin
Edited: Sep 20, 2018, 7:17am Top

Acts Chapter 2 early Christian life, sort of
"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability."
- "other languages" because Jerusalem was filled with Jews from a wide variety of nations

- Peter explains:
"Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning."
- Peter goes on to quote Joel's dark prophecy on the last days, when God will "pour out my Spirit upon all flesh" and (of course?), "The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood". He quotes David too (from Psalm 16)

- And concludes:
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
- Then the chapter concludes by describing in detail the communist life of the community of Christians, where every possession is shared

- So, in summary, we have a very weird community of apparently very happy people, doing weird dances and resembling a cult, and we have a sense of how Peter was preaching to gain converts

(OK, a little snark: Jews mostly didn't convert and Paul's methods were quite different from this. Is this chapter a nice record of the ideal early Christian community or a criticism explaining how ineffective this early community was at converting anyone?)

154dchaikin
Sep 20, 2018, 7:17am Top

Acts Chapter 3 more on Peter's methods on preaching

- First Peter, with John (Zebedee) heals a cripple in Jerusalem
- Then Peter preaches to those impressed by this.

Acts Chapter 4 persecution

- Peter and John are locked up by Jewish leadership, but aren't convicted of anything. The Sanhedrin only asks then to stop preaching. And, when they refuse, they are let go anyway.

- Peter and John pray with their community in celebration. The place shakes and all are filled with the Holy Spirit.

- then follows another summary of this purely communist community

- And we meet Barnabas (also known as Joseph of Cyprus), whose name is said to mean "son of encouragement". He will encourage Paul later.

155dchaikin
Sep 20, 2018, 7:31am Top

Acts Chapter 5

Ananias and Sapphira
- Ananias broke the communist code (with his wife's knowledge) and kept some money to himself. Confronted by Peter, he falls dead. His wife is brought in and confronted by Peter, and also falls dead. (Point is either be communist, or don't mess with Peter?)

- "Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles." Peter begins to gain followers and many sick come to him.

- The apostles are arrested by Jewish leadership and imprisoned, but the Lord opens the prison doors. In the morning the Sanhedrin find them teaching, and so brings them in for a trial much like in Chapter 4.

- One Pharisee, Gamaliel, argues to let them go. His point is that two other self-proclaimed Messiahs have made a ruckus and then died, proving them false. So, let this group to their fate (and, he adds, if they are legitimate, then the leadership will avoid fighting God)

- Gamaliel's examples are Judas the Galilean, who is recorded elsewhere from 6 CE, and Theudas, who is recorded by Josephus, but at a later date than this.

- Gamaliel is later Paul's teacher

- The apostles are flogged and released. The wounds become a badge of honor for the apostles who, of course, continue to preach.

156dchaikin
Edited: Sep 21, 2018, 6:42am Top

Acts Chapter 6

- a group of Hellenists complains their widows are neglected in the daily distribution of food.

- Hellenists appear to be a group of Greek-speaking Jews.

- The apostles support the Hellenists and appoint seven to assist them, including, notably Stephen

- "Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.". This leads to him being put on trial on false charges of being anti-Jewish. "And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Acts Chapter 7 death of Stephen, under Saul's watch

Under questioning, Stephen subjects the court a long speech on the history of the Jews from Genesis to Abraham to Moses to Joseph to King Solomon, and concludes by condemning the people for persecuting the prophets. (If your wondering, Stephen didn't answer the question) The audience is enraged and begins to stone Stephen - under Saul's watch. This is our introduction to Saul/Paul. Stephen begs that God forgive the stoners, while Saul approves of the stoning.

157dchaikin
Sep 21, 2018, 7:02am Top

Acts Chapter 8 Philip's mission

- Saul leads a persecution of Christians, who scatter out of Jerusalem. This leads to the spread of Christianity

- First Philip converts Samaria

--- In Samaria he finds many following a magician, Simon. He begins to convert and baptize. Even Simon is converted. Peter and John are sent (something they do - visit nascent communities) and allow these new converts to receive the Holy Spirit.

--- Simon is impressed by them and wants to provide this Holy Spirit thing too. He offers to buy the right to do this. Peter goes off, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you." - if possible...

- next Philip converts Ethiopia

--- And angel sends Philip to Gaza. There he comes across and Ethiopian eunuch who is the treasurer for Candace, queen of Ethiopia, and who is reading Isaiah. They start to talk and Philip begins to explain Isaiah to the eunuch--explain it as Christian prophecy. When they are done, the eunuch is baptized by Philip, then, instead of getting filled with Holy Spirit, the "Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away". The eunuch happily moves on back to Ethiopia, "But Philip found himself at Azotus..." - biblical humor?

158dchaikin
Sep 21, 2018, 7:26am Top

Acts Chapter 9 - the Road to Damascus

- Saul is on his way to Damascus to find and capture "any who belonged to the Way.", when this happens:
"Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus."
- A disciple in Damascus named Ananais (presumably not the dead one) is recruited by the Lord to heal and baptize Saul. But Ananias is apparently more afraid of Saul then the Lord! "But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’" Ananias lays his hands on Paul, who is filled with Holy Spirit and "something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored." Then Saul is baptized.

- Saul's turn is absolute and he begins to preach for Jesus. Everyone is confused and finally Jews in Damascus try to kill him while he is in a castle. He famously escapes in by being lowered in a basket.

- Then he returns to Jerusalem where he attempts to join the disciples there, but they are afraid of him too. Barnabas explains his story to the apostles and Saul can now preach.

- But...immediately he upsets the Hellenists (Greek Jews of some sort) and he flees back home - which is Tarsus.

- meanwhile the church is expanding in Judea, Galilee and Samaria

- Peter goes to "the saints living in Lydda" and heals an Aeneas, converting Lydda and Sharon. Then he is brought to Joppa, and brings the recently deceased Tabitha, "which in Greek is Dorcas", back to life - subjecting some future American girls to a very awkward biblical name. Peter stays in Joppa with one Simon the tanner.

159dchaikin
Sep 21, 2018, 7:31am Top

160dchaikin
Sep 21, 2018, 7:56am Top

Acts Chapter 10 - Conversion of Cornelius

- Cornelius is an Italian in Caesarea but faithful to God and extremely devout. He is described as "a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called". An angel of God speaks to him and tells him to send for Peter from Joppa. He sends three men.

- Meanwhile Peter is in Joppa having a vision:
"He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’"
Peter recognizes that this food isn't kosher, but a voice tells him it's clean. The vision happens three times.

- As the men arrive, "The Spirit" tells Peter to go meet them. The next day they got together to Caesarea.

- When Peter finally meets Cornelius he explains that the vision prepared him to work with gentiles. Up to this point, he had only preached to Jews (and Samarians).

- Then Peter preaches a bit, which is interesting because it's the first time we have the message given to gentiles. So there is no Jewish history or laws or prophecy, just the message of Jesus preaching peace, healing, being put death and arising.

- All listening, mostly gentiles, receive the Holy Spirit, astounding the Jews. Then they are baptized.

161dchaikin
Sep 21, 2018, 8:00am Top

Acts Chapter 11

- Peter relays this whole story to the community in Judea and Christianity spreads

- Barnabas converts a community in Antioch (Rome's 3rd biggest city), then brings in Saul and founds a church. "...and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians’."

- Agabus, a prophet, predicts a famine. The church in Antioch, under Baranabas and Saul, prepares and becomes a key resource for Christians under the famine.

162dchaikin
Sep 21, 2018, 8:44am Top

Acts Chapter 12

- King Herod has James (Zebedee) killed and Peter arrested during Passover

- Peter has a vision where an released him from prison - but it turns out it's not a vision. He's free.

- There is an entertaining bit with Peter at the gate to house of Mary, mother of John Mark. The maid Rhoda who is so excited to see him, she runs to tells the family, leaving him locked outside.

- Herod has the guards who were watching Peter executed, then he has a weird death in Caesarea. An angry crowd he is listening to starts shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!’ And immediately, because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. - That is he died because he refused to praise God. Apparently Josephus gives a roughly consistent account of his death.

- Barnabas and Saul return to Jerusalem, with John Mark.

163dchaikin
Edited: Sep 21, 2018, 9:26am Top

Acts Chapter 13 - Paul begins his 1st mission

- The Antioch church send Barnabas and Paul to Cyprus, with John Mark. Speaking to the proconsul, the are confronted by Bar-Jesus/Elymas - a Jewish false prophet and a magician.
"But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?"
Then he blinds Bar-Jesus/Elymas. The proconsul is converted.

- Now Barnabas and Saul become Paul and Barnabas (So my notes switch from BS to PB)

- And Paul and Barnabas begin their entertaining travelogue, and John Mark heads back to Jerusalem (Later, Paul will say John deserted them)

--- from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia.
--- from Perga to Antioch in Pisidia

- Here in this smaller Antioch, Paul preaches to a synagogue on the Sabbath, giving a whole history of the Jews, and the initial response is really positive. But the next Sabbath the Jewish community erupts in protest, leading Paul to says, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles....' That's his strongest statement against the Jews, and the one that sticks in the memory. It seems a large part of this book is designed to allow him to say that. His two other statements like this are more mild. The point, of course, is to explain how Christianity became primarily a non-Jewish religion. But here it also leaves a strong anti-Jewish taste.

--- from Antioch in Pisidia to Iconium.

164dchaikin
Sep 21, 2018, 9:16am Top



165dchaikin
Sep 21, 2018, 9:43am Top

Acts Chapter 14 - end of Paul's 1st mission.

Paul and Barnabas repeat in Iconium what they did in Antioch of Pisidia. Except there both Jews and gentiles chase them out.

--- fled for their lives to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country

In Lystra the people see Barnabas as Zeus and Paul as Hermes (Ovid has a story like this). Paul and Barnabas protest, but to no avail, until finally the Jews chase them out.

--- from Lystra to Derbe where they convert many
--- they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch.

...establishing churches with supporters along the way.

--- Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia, in Perga, then to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch - where they shared their experiences.

166FlorenceArt
Sep 21, 2018, 12:59pm Top

I wouldn’t have thought the Acts of the Apostles could be so exciting!

167dchaikin
Sep 21, 2018, 8:19pm Top

: ) When you boil it down, it is kind of an adventure story. (For the travels I keep imagining the movie maps from the first Indiana Jones movie.)

168dchaikin
Sep 22, 2018, 1:18pm Top

Let's see if I can keep this excitement going...

169dchaikin
Edited: Sep 22, 2018, 4:24pm Top

Acts Chapter 15

Council at Jerusalem

- Paul and Barnabas are sent to Jerusalem to discuss the issue of gentiles and circumcision...

- This is their first chance to report to Jerusalem what they have done, so first time Paul can reveal he's begun converting a ton of gentiles.

- Here Peter makes a speech. When I first read this it just clicked on by, because it's not very interesting on the surface. But Peter begins by saying he was the one selected to talk to the gentiles and it seems we must be thinking he means, implicitly, and not Paul. But, we're talking about circumcision and he's concludes anyone can be saved without it.

- Then James speaks - this is the brother of Jesus (not the executed James Zebedee) - and concludes with four rules for gentiles: "abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood." Paul and Barnabas are sent with Silas and Judas Barsabbas back to Antioch with a letter sparing the male gentile converts.

--- Jerusalem to Antioch

Paul begins his second mission

- Paul and Barnabas split over John Mark. Paul sees him as a deserter and heads to Syria and Cilicia with Silas. Barnabas and John Mark go to Cyprus.

--------------

Some extra notes:

- This is the last time Peter speaks and the only time we have Paul, Peter and James all talking together. I need to say some more on that...

- This conflicts with Galatians, supposedly written by Paul (and which I haven't read)

- Silas is probably Silvanus in 2 Corinthians and 1 & 2 Thessalonians (also which I haven't read)

170dchaikin
Sep 22, 2018, 3:04pm Top

Side note on Peter, Paul and James

My understanding is that there is a widely debated variety of concepts about the power plays between these three key early Christian leaders - James (brother of Jesus), Peter and Paul. However, I'm not an expert and all my information comes from my memory of Reza Aslan's book Zealot, which I listened to, and what I can find on wikipedia.

In a nutshell, James was the natural leader after the death of Jesus and he led the early Christians in Jerusalem, staying close to the Jewish traditions. Paul, born Jewish, was ready to ditch all Jewish traditions and focused on converting gentiles, but he had his own influence in different areas (presumably in Antioch and Asia Minor). Peter would then naturally be aligned with James. Eusebius connects Peter to Antioch. And tradition puts Peter later in Rome (without any biblical or archaeological support). Actually, tradition has both Paul and Peter executed by Nero in Rome somewhere around 64, 67 or 68 ce - dates that are important.

The 66 revolt in Jerusalem may have changed things. James was likely killed and his movement was likely wiped out, leaving Christians outside of Jerusalem to continue to the movement.

So how did these different perspectives play out, and what role did Peter play (if any). It seems Paul's legacy would dominate these early steps of Christianity. James and Jewish Christians faded out. Gentile Christians not following or really knowing any Jewish traditions carry the movement forward. Peter, of course, would be left to define the mythical founding of the Catholic church in Rome--a legacy not accepted by other branches of the religion.

Peter, Paul in James are found together in a few places - Acts 15 (above), maybe in 1 Corinthians 9, and in Galatians 1. In Romans Peter addresses some 60 people by name in Rome, Peter is not mentioned. So, this little window in Acts 15, where Peter is supposed to be talking about circumcision, but appears to be confronting Paul about converting gentiles - it may be a very loaded little speech bristling with some underlying tension. And James response, one the kind of appears to cool things over, may also be a loaded inclusion here. A chapter to read between the lines, but it's not clear exactly how or what to read between them.

171dchaikin
Sep 22, 2018, 3:11pm Top

ETA - wikipedia tells me the council is also covered in Galatians 2, but the two accounts contradict.

see here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/292076#6584956

172dchaikin
Edited: Sep 22, 2018, 4:59pm Top

Acts Chapter 16 - Paul's second mission continues

--- back to Derbe and Lystra

Paul picks up the disciple Timothy (Jewish mother/Greek father) and has him circumcised (ouch!!) and then brings him along

--- to Phrygia and Galatia (but forbidden to preach by the Holy Spirit), then Bithynia (but the Spirit of Jesus prevented them from entering) and on to the Troas (near the lost ancient Troy)

On the brink of entering Europe Paul has a vision, "there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’"

--- from Troas, by boat to, Samothrace, Neapolis, and then Philippi in Macedonia

In Philippi Paul first converts Lydia (from Lydia in Asia Minor), and the disciples stay with her there.

Paul and Silas come across a possessed slave girl who had "a spirit of divination" (the Greek actually says "a spirit of the Python"). They listened to her for several days until Paul, "very much annoyed", chased out her demon. She lost her ability to prophecy, her owners, upset at their lost income, brought Paul and Silas to the magistrate where they were stripped, flogged and imprisoned. (something tells me more meaning was intended here)

But there is a twist in what you might expect. First there is an earthquake, but Paul and Silas don't escape. The jailer is so thankful (remember, he would likely have been executed) that he converts and is baptized and Paul and Silas can wash and address their wounds. Next they are released by the magistrate, and Paul protests their treatment on the basis that he and Silas are Roman citizens. Now the magistrate is worried and apologizes and asks them to leave. They do (after a stopover with friendly Lydia).

--------------

So, Paul is a Roman citizen, he is Jewish, a Pharisee, and he is Christian. He will use all of these to his advantage and he will need them all. And, interesting that Romans were treated better, well as people, than non-Romans.

173dchaikin
Edited: Sep 22, 2018, 5:32pm Top

Acts Chapter 17 - Paul's second mission continues

--- from Philippi, they travel the via Egnatia through Macedonia to Amphipolis, Apollonia, and then Thessalonica.

In Thessalonica Paul preaches until Jews riot and raid the house of a Jason (probably looking for Paul). Poor Jason is brought to the magistrate and then released on a bail.

--- from Thessalonica to Beroea

At firs the Jews in Beroea like Paul's message. But Jews from Thessalonica arrive and incite the crowds. Paul leaves to Athens, but Silas and Timothy stay in Beroea.

--- to Athens

Here Paul is bothered by the all idols. He debates with the Jews and also with Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. The Philosophers were intrigued.
"So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.’ Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we too are his offspring.”
"
And so on. This is Paul's version of the Christian message to gentiles. Like Peter's to Cornelius he doesn't bother with the Jewish history, but unlike Peter's, Paul's speech is actually really interesting. The response is mixed, but no riots. New followers include "Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris"

John Steinbeck has a novel titled To a God Unknown. It's a curious novel and, now I see, with a curious biblical reference.

174dchaikin
Edited: Sep 22, 2018, 5:58pm Top

Acts Chapter 18 - End of Paul's second mission, and beginning of his third mission

--- from Athens to Corinth

Paul stays with Aquila and his wife Priscilla, two Jews exiled from Rome when Claudius apparently had them all exiled. Here we learn the Paul is a tentmaker, by trade (as are Aquila and Priscilla)

Silas and Timothy meet back up with Paul here, and the Jews reject Paul: "When they opposed and reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’ "--his second statement like this. (see chapter 13) Paul moves to the house next door to the synagogue, and even converts "the official of the Synagogue", whatever that means.

Paul has a vision where the Lord says, "Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent," so he stays in Corinth 18 months. Eventually the Jews get upset and complain to the proconsul of Achaia, Gallio (dating this to 51-52 ce) that Paul is preaching against Jewish law. When Gallio says he doesn't care, the Jews riot and beat up one Sosthenes. "But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things."

--- Paul, Priscilla and Aquila sail to Cenchrae and then Ephesus. " At Cenchreae he had his hair cut, for he was under a vow." This curious oddity shows Paul continues to follow Jewish custom and that he's a nazirite. Jesus, of course, was a Nazarite, ie from Nazareth.

--- Paul, now alone, sails to Caesarea, then travels to Jerusalem, Antioch and then back through all the cities he had previously visited. (beginning his third mission)

"Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria." - a little aside on this preacher of John the Baptist, who didn't know of Christ. Priscilla and Aquila explain the Way to him, and he moves along, converting.

175dchaikin
Edited: Sep 22, 2018, 6:22pm Top

Acts Chapter 19 - Paul's third mission continues

--- back in Ephesus

Paul first meets a group baptized by John the Baptist and converts them to Christianity then he preaches at the synagogue until he is kicked out, then he preaches "daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus." (no one knows what that means). He stays in Ephesus for two years.
"Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.’ Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit said to them in reply, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ Then the man with the evil spirit leapt on them, mastered them all, and so overpowered them that they fled out of the house naked and wounded. "
That's biblical humor. There is also a massive burning of books of magicians, and many converts.

Paul makes plans for Macedonia, Achaia and, eventually Rome (the first he mentions is as his goal). But first there is a scuff up with one Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis (one of the seven wonders of the world) and is losing business as people in Ephesus convert. A riot ensues with crowds gathering up Christians and chanting, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ When a Jew tries to calm the crowd, the just get riled up more. Finally an unnamed town clerk assures the crowd that Ephesians will remain the temple keepers of Artemis and to settle any complaints civilly. Crowd dismissed. (what a place!)

176dchaikin
Sep 22, 2018, 6:33pm Top

Acts Chapter 20 - Paul's third mission continues

--- from Ephesus to Macedonia and to Greece.

from here Paul planned to sail to Syria but a plot forces him to flee

--- from Greece, back to Macedonia, to Troas

During a riveting conversation in Troas, a young man named Eutychus fell asleep and fell out a window dead. Paul brings him back to life (the story illustrating that Christians should be watchful always...ok, and should stay awake a church)

--- from Troas by boat to Assos, then Mitylene, then opposite Chios, then Samos, and, skipping Ephesus, to Miletus.

In Miletus Paul speaks to the Ephesian elders (called episkopos, or Bishops). This is Paul's only speech to Christians and in it he brings up a new problem - those "distorting the truth", i.e. giving false teaching. This is also a farewell speech, where Paul's notifies the elders he will likely be arrested in Jerusalem. There is much weeping.

177dchaikin
Edited: Sep 22, 2018, 7:06pm Top

Acts Chapter 21 - end of Paul's third mission

--- from Miletus to Cos, Rhodes, to Patara, past Cyprus and Syria to Tyre

Paul stays seven days in Tyre where he's warned not to go to Jerusalem.

--- from Tyre to Ptolemais, then Caesarea

Stays will Philip (last seen in Chapter 8), and Agabus gives a prophecy of Paul's imprisonment in Jerusalem by binding his own hand and feet in Paul's belt. (We last saw Agabus in chapter 11).

--- from Caesarea to Jerusalem

In Jerusalem Paul meets James (last seen in chapter 15) and he is again warned, but more specifically. James informs him that he is rumored to be preaching non-Jewish stuff, specifically against circumcision. So James advises him to go through the purification rites to show he is following all Jewish law. So Paul enters the temple.

Eventually Jews from Asia (as in Asia Minor, I think??) recognize him and accuse him of being against Jewish law and defiling the temple. The crowd erupts, Paul is beaten until a Roman Tribune arrives, arrests Paul and demands an explanation from the crowd. He gets only a riotous crowd.

As Paul is being carried away, he speaks with the tribune. First the tribune makes sure, by his language, that he is not "the Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?" (this happened somewhere between 52-59 ce). Paul says he from Tarsus and asks to be allowed to speak to the crowd. He is allowed.

178dchaikin
Sep 22, 2018, 7:12pm Top

Acts Chapter 22

When Paul asks the crowd to quiet so he can speak, they do! Then he tells his story from when he learned under Gamaliel, the Pharisee, (last mentioned in chapter 5), to when he himself persecuted those following the Way, to a second (and slightly different) account of the Road to Damascus conversion.

The crowd erupts in anger, and the tribune orders Paul to be imprisoned and flogged. But when Paul claims Roman citizenship, the tribune gets uncomfortable. ("The tribune came and asked Paul, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ The tribune answered, ‘It cost me a large sum of money to get my citizenship.’ Paul said, ‘But I was born a citizen.’ Immediately those who were about to examine him drew back from him; and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.) Paul is released the next day, and the tribune orders him to stand before the Jewish Sanhedrin.

179dchaikin
Edited: Sep 22, 2018, 7:28pm Top

Acts Chapter 23

It starts out badly. "the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near him {Paul} to strike him on the mouth. At this Paul said to him, ‘God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! ... Those standing nearby said, ‘Do you dare to insult God’s high priest?’ And Paul said, ‘I did not realize, brothers...'"

But then Paul divides the crowd by stating he is a Pharisee, "I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.". Pharisees believed in resurrection, but Sadducees did not and now they begin to argue among themselves. The tribune is forced to arrest Paul again to keep him from getting killed.

" In the morning the Jews joined in a conspiracy and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink until they had killed Paul."

The tribune (who we learn is named Claudius Lysias) learns of the plot, gets Paul out of the city and sends him to the governor Felix.

--- from Jerusalem to Antipatris to Caesarea, under arrest in Herod's palace.

(Have to wonder what happened to those bound by the oath... Also, what does calling one
a whitewashed wall mean, anyway? KJV has "you whited wall", but that's not much clearer.)

180dchaikin
Edited: Sep 22, 2018, 7:45pm Top

Acts Chapter 24 - Paul's imprisonment

An attorney presents the case against Paul, "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes". Paul sweet-talks a defense where he admits he follows the Way, and that, "I have a hope in God...that there will be a resurrection." Basically, he sounds like a Jewish Pharisee. It helps that Paul's original accusers aren't present.

Felix holds Paul in hope of ransom. In the meantime, Paul preaches to Felix and his wife Drusilla. Two years later Felix is replaced by Procius Festus, and Paul is kept in the palace.

(unmentioned here is Drusilla's story, worth a look)

181dchaikin
Sep 22, 2018, 7:57pm Top

Acts Chapter 25

When Jews demand Paul be brought to trail in Jerusalem, Paul appeals to the emperor.

Festus talks it over with King Agrippa (II), explaining "When the accusers stood up, they did not charge him with any of the crimes that I was expecting. Instead they had certain points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, but whom Paul asserted to be alive."

Agrippa asks to hear Paul himself.

182dchaikin
Sep 22, 2018, 8:14pm Top

Acts Chapter 26

Paul defends himself in front of Agrippa and his wife Bernice by telling his story (This time the road to Damascus conversion includes this line: "When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It hurts you to kick against the goads*.”

*A goad is a metal spiked or looped-ended prod for driving reluctant oxen

When he's done, "Festus exclaimed, ‘You are out of your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you insane!’" But Agippa is more impressed and makes possibly a joke about being almost converted. (KJV has him say "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian", but the presumably more accurate NRSV has only, ‘Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?’)

"...as they {King Agrippa and Benice} were leaving they said to one another, ‘This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.’ Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to the emperor.’"

183dchaikin
Edited: Sep 22, 2018, 8:35pm Top

Acts Chapter 27 - Paul's trip to Rome - part 1

First part under Julius, who treats Paul well, is smooth

--- to Sidon, then "under the lee of Cyprus", and "across the sea that is off Cilicia and Pamphylia", to Myra in Lycia. Then Paul is put on another ship, leaving Julius behind.

Now travel becomes slow:

--- We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind was against us, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Sailing past it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

Lost time means the boat must sail in a season of bad weather. Paul prophesies the boat will be lost, but the passengers saved.
"When a moderate south wind began to blow, they thought they could achieve their purpose; so they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close to the shore. But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster, rushed down from Crete. Since the ship was caught and could not be turned with its head to the wind, we gave way to it and were driven. By running under the lee of a small island called Cauda we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control. After hoisting it up they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they would run on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea-anchor and so were driven."
Eventually, after a lot of adventure, the ship is wrecked intentionally on an unknown beach, and all passengers escape to shore, including all the prisoners.



184dchaikin
Sep 23, 2018, 9:34am Top

Acts Chapter 28 - Paul reaches Rome

"After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us round it."
The Maltese as primitive isolated people. Paul is bitten by a poisonous snake and doesn't get hurt, and the natives now view him as a god, and then he heals the father of Publius, who is the islands leader.

--- from Malta to Syracuse, to Rhegium, to Puteoli (where Paul spends a week with Christians), and to Rome

In Rome Paul is under guard, but in a house. When he meets the Jewish leaders, they haven't heard of him and are willing to hear him out. Some accept his message others disagree - it's all polite until as everyone is leaving Paul quotes Isaiah: "You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive," and, finally, "Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen."

He lived in Rome two years proclaiming and teaching.

185dchaikin
Sep 23, 2018, 9:36am Top

And so the book ends, roughly in 63 ce. Within five years Paul, Peter and James will all be killed (James may have died in 62). But no word on any of this. The book leaves us hanging.

186dchaikin
Sep 23, 2018, 12:01pm Top

When I finished Acts I kind of shrugged, thinking mainly that the travelogue was kind of fun. Of course, being Jewish, it's a tough book to appreciate and probably that colored my reaction. Going through the notes, I have to acknowledge that is has something of a mini-epic quality to it, a story line that manages to track and hold a course. It could be drawn into novel and maintain a reader's interest without any need to over-dramatize.

But it's strange thinking on one-hand on the fiction, or this "making" of history, and on the other seeing a 1st or 2nd century perspective that, in and of itself, is really history, and an interesting one. The book leaves some appreciation both on how much traveling much have been going on in the era, and the hardships involved. When a character like Duscilla marries a Roman governor (Felix) who was assigned and recorded as having a two-year appointment in the Levant, and who is also recorded to have died in the Vesuvius eruption, something clicks. The mythical Paul wasn't alone traveling, officials were moving all the time, and they were important and must have been moving in safe routes, which means there must have been a flurry of people moving in much less safe routes and means. Paul's mission becomes something a representative of all this unrecorded movement and interaction.

But, this is a book of important religious history, with theological, or at least practical religious implication. Maybe James, Peter and Paul do really represent three competing branches of a movement, one that would play-out for Paul (albeit, apparently posthumously). But certainly, this very Jewish movement became somehow the antithesis to Jews and Judaism. While Nero was apparently feeding Christians to the lions, Christians would gladly overlook this as they saw the promise of empire changing and coming their way. Judaism, instead, practically obliterated by the end of the Bar Kokba revolt, would trail along as a religion and culture of diaspora, always outsiders, forever, eternally.

Another touch of real history comes in trials in Jerusalem of Peter and then Paul. Gamaliel compares Peter's messiah to Judas the Galilean and Theudas, and Paul is thought be associated with a group of Egyptian assassins. These are corroborated happenings. Jesus, Judas, Theudas, assassins, a whole-scale revolt. Between 60 and 70 ce all the Christian leadership is killed, and the temple in Jerusalem is destroyed along with its revolt. The land between Syria and the Negev desert was a tinderbox constantly exploding and ready to take down the world, a world that was hardly calm and quiet. I think one should keep in mind while reading this that stove was hot the whole time.

187dchaikin
Sep 26, 2018, 7:23pm Top

Romans

Lately I prep for these books by first reading the wikipedia pages. And, wow, Romans:
"In the opinion of Jesuit scholar Joseph Fitzmyer, the book 'overwhelms the reader by the density and sublimity of the topic with which it deals...'

...

N. T. Wright notes that Romans is

'...neither a systematic theology nor a summary of Paul's lifework, but it is by common consent his masterpiece. It dwarfs most of his other writings, an Alpine peak towering over hills and villages. ... What nobody doubts is that we are here dealing with a work of massive substance, presenting a formidable intellectual challenge while offering a breathtaking theological and spiritual vision.'

...

In his prologue to his translation of the book of Romans, which was largely taken from the prologue of German Reformer Martin Luther, {William} Tyndale writes that:

'... this epistle is the principal and most excellent part of the new testament'

...

Martin Luther described Paul's letter to the Romans as 'the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul'.
I'll add the Romans has the lines that say faith is everything, and is more important than action. These are used to justify discarding of Jew law, and have forced Catholics to come with other arguments for why Christians should also live a virtuous life. And, Romans has the lines of following authority that were notoriously used to justify slavery, and, then used recently by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to justify abusive US immigration policies while winking at American white supremacists. This led to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to say "I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is repeated throughout the Bible.", thereby successfully dodging the press and common decency expectations within the US administration...and somehow placing the bible over all other considerations of the purpose of the legal code.

I haven't read this yet. What is in here?!! I'm fascinated already.

188dchaikin
Oct 1, 2018, 9:08am Top

Read Romans over the weekend - two days, and my head hurt after the first day. Romans has a lot of preaching (or, as my study bible says, diatribe), which reminds me of Moses in Deuteronomy, and also Jeremiah. No clue why Jeremiah over Isaiah, who is quoted a lot or Ezekiel, something about the tone in my memory. A couple oddities: (1) Paul is widely considered the actual author, as in with about the same confidence that Ovid or Virgil are considered the author of their works. That's not to say that parts were added or modified later, but that this originated with a real, historical Paul. Somehow, I expected that to be controversial. And, (2) Paul never quotes Jesus. He quotes the OT extensively and in various ways, but he only talks about the idea of Jesus and how Christians should be, without ever once (apparently here or elsewhere) referring directly to what Jesus said or what his actual ideas were. Paul should be writing around 56 ce, whereas the gospels are dated later, so he wouldn't have had actual gospel to quote, but still, odd that he didn't use his own source of Jesus's commentary.

My usual notes are coming.

189dchaikin
Oct 1, 2018, 10:01pm Top

notes from wikipedia (see also two posts above)

- dates range from 52-58 ce, which is really precise. Wikipedia likes the winter of 55/56 or 56/57, the study bible says 56-57.

- Historical context.
--- In 49 ce emperor Claudius expelled Jews from Rome (per Acts and Suetonius). It's possible that Jewish Christians were a part of the cause and also expelled. He died in 54, Nero succeeds and apparently Jews returned. (Jews made up about 7% of the Roman Empire, and had a presence in Rome).
--- In 64 Rome burns and, according Nero blames the Christians (per Tacitus)

- an outline (wikipedia and my study bible don't agree. I've compiled both)

1:1-7 - opening/greeting
1:8-15 - prayer of Thanksgiving
1:16-17 - theological theme: Gospel as power of God, the just live by Faith
1:18 - 11:36 - theological argument
--- 1:18 - 8:39 - meaning of God's righteousnss
--- --- 1:18-32 - judgment or guilt (takes from Wisdom of Solomon)
--- --- 2:1-5 - criticism of Jews
--- --- 3:21 - 5:11 - righteousness comes from faith, no from following law
--- --- 5-8 - faith frees from sin
--- 9-11 - Israelites
12-15:13 - Admonitions (according to wikipedia this section is the mental transformation of believers. But really, it's admonitions)
--- 13:1-7 - Obedience to rulers - used to defend slavery
--- 13:8 - 14 golden rule and whatnot
--- 14 - 15:13 - on the weak and strong in faith
15:14 - 16:23 - epilogue with conclusion
--- 15:14-33 - Paul's plans
--- 16:14-27 - greetings and doxology

- Catholics - argue 2:5-11 show the necessity of a virtuous life (as opposed to an non-virtuous life with faith)

- Romans was key for the Reformation, which largely saw Romans as a summary of Christine doctrine. Generally protestants find salvation from faith, not from actions ("alone through faith" - per Martin Luther)

- Evangelists follow the "Roman Road" - " set of scriptures from Romans that Christian evangelists use to present a clear and simple case for personal salvation to each person". They are, in order: 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9, 10:13

190dchaikin
Oct 4, 2018, 7:58am Top

Notes on Romans from The Literary Guide to the Bible

Michael Goulder writes a chapter on all the Pauline epistles. I'll try to capture some summary notes and what is directly pertinent to Romans here.

- chronology. The whole chapter is partially based on an assume chronology of the Pauline letters. Goulder argues for some evolution of Paul's thinking based on this. That's an odd thing because the chronology of these letters is uncertain.

Goulder orders it this way:

1. 1 Thessalonians
2. 1 Corinthians
3. Galatians
4. 2 Corinthians
5 Romans
6. Philemon
7. Philippians

2 Thesalonians, Colossians and Ephesians are traditionally assigned to Paul, but true authorship is disputed. Goulder sees Pauline elements

1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Hebrews are traditionally assigned to Paul, but generally considered not his.

The HarperCollins Study Bible has it this way:

1. 1 Thessalonians 50-51
2. 2 Thessalonians 50-51 (unless pseudonymous, than it's later)
3. Philipians 54-55 (or 58-61 putting it near the end)
4. Philomon 54-55 (or 58-61 putting it near the end)
5. Galatians 50-56
6. 1 Corinthians 54
7. 2 Corinthians 55-56
8. Romans 56-57
9. Colosians 57-61 (unless pseudonymous, than it's later)
10. Ephesians 80-95 (not Paul)
11. 1 Timothy 90-110 (not Paul)
12. 2 Timothy 90-110 (not Paul)
(Titus and Hebrews aren't listed)

These aren't as different as they might first appear, and in both cases Romans can be closely associated with 1 & 2 Corinthians and Galatians - coming after them, but within about 2 years.

---------------
Goulder lists typical elements of these letters, using the letters from 2 Maccabees.
1. Salutation 2. Thanksgiving 3. prayer for recipients 4. an account of the situation 5. encouragement or commands and 6. pious conclusion

Goulder sees Romans as closely paralleling 1 Corinthians

key elements of Romans
- systematic gospel layout
- an Adam/Christ antithesis, where we died in Adam, but in Christ are made alive
- has arguments against Jewish Christians (follows Galatians)
- heavy use of Old Testament references
- emphasis on showing how gentiles were always part of the plan, as was rejection of Jews
- he writes: "As a literary achievement, Romans is a mixed success" ... "He soon {after the opening} suffers the nemesis of rhetoric, as the flood of language takes over from meaning..." ... "Nevertheless, Paul is the final master of his words, and he is able to produce that sequence of lapidary antitheses which has persuaded Lutherans, and other Christians too, that Romans is the closest we have to the voice of God"

191dchaikin
Oct 4, 2018, 8:51am Top

Some of my notes from the study bible introduction are incorporate above.

Context: Paul is writing this letter in Greece (Corinth?) before leaving for Jerusalem, with plans to stop by Rome on his way to Spain (it appears it made it to Rome, but not Spain)

Paul is balancing. He has to manage tensions between gentile and Jewish Christians. Jewish Christians are likely concerned about the attention Paul has given gentiles and may feel he is turning his back on their community. Gentiles meanwhile may be thinking God has rejected the Jews. So Paul need to defend his conversion of Gentiles and also defend the Jewish origins of Christianity.

The introduction says this is possible Paul's last letter (consistent with list above), but it's not a summary of his thought. It is, however, his most sustain theological argument.

He mixes Greco-Roman rhetorical techniques with Jewish commentary methods

-----------------

I'm really curious as to what it means that Paul does what he does without ever really citing the supposed Jesus ideals. But there is nothing on that in these basic sources. Is Paul redefining the religion, or is he promoting the idea of religion over the actual meaning and purpose of it? Is faith for salvation really a meaningful concept, or just logical nonsense? Is that a weird question? It just seems that in the gospel Jesus had a purpose, there was revolutionary tendency, and effort to rile up the oppressed. I don't think there is really any of that here. I should save this kind of commentary till after my notes, and, really, after I've looked this up a bit more. But as I go through this again and type those notes up, this is what I'll be thinking about, so putting it here.

193dchaikin
Edited: Oct 6, 2018, 9:16am Top

Pauline Christianity

I spent a little time looking this up and, well, wow. What a topic. I found some fascinating posts on religious sites, which I tend to avoid. But it seems the idea of Pauline vs Jesus Christianity is the kind of controversial topic that is obscure enough and complicated enough, that it generates a lot of explanations for the sake of clarity by those most passionately involved.

The discussions revolve around, on one hand, did Paul re-define Christianity, or just focus on certain aspects, and on the other, what are the differences in this "Pauline" Christianity vs Jesus's Christianity. Pauline Christianity is often used as a derogatory term, as if Paul corrupted the religion, but it also seems to define the Reformation movement and the American Evangelical movement. And, there is a political aspect. Paul focuses on salvation to enter heaven, where as Jesus in the Gospel focuses more on the "Kingdom of God" - that is Jesus has more of a communal and social justice message, which is interpreted as liberal. American Evangelists tend to be very conservative, and for that reason tend to favor Pauline Christianity.

What is relevant here, to keep myself a little focused, is that there is actually a major difference in these Pauline epistles and the gospel. They don't seem to fundamentally contradict each other, but the focus is very different. The gospel looks at what Jesus said and did, where Paul's letters are mainly interested in getting followers to embrace this Messiah.

(edited to fix some typos...)

194dchaikin
Edited: Oct 5, 2018, 8:59am Top

Not sure I should post all this, since it's argument with bias and maybe an extreme view, and also it's really long. But I found it readable and really helpful, and it's a good reference. This is from https://www.gotquestions.org/Pauline-Christianity.html - a Christian site.

We believe that the New Testament is a unified whole...

However, those who theorize about a separate “Pauline Christianity” tell a different story:

Jesus, a great teacher, considered himself to be the long-awaited Messiah for the Jews. He believed that God would overthrow Rome and bring His kingdom to earth. In preparation for this, Jesus taught a message of unconditional love, tolerance, and non-judgmental acceptance of everyone. Alas, Jesus’ mission of inaugurating a new earthly age failed when the Romans crucified him.

Jesus’ followers, believing that God had raised their rabbi from the dead, continued to meet in Jerusalem under the leadership of James, Jesus’ brother. Their intention was to await the still-coming kingdom and continue observing Jesus’ brand of enlightened Judaism. But along came Saul of Tarsus, who faked a conversion in order to infiltrate the church. Peter and James and others who had actually known Jesus were suspicious of Saul, who had never met Jesus.

Then Saul, who started calling himself “Paul,” had a stroke of genius. He artfully combined traditional Hebrew ideas with those of pagan Greek philosophy, creating a new religion that could appeal to both Jews and Gentiles. He began preaching that Jesus was actually God, that Jesus’ death was linked to the Jewish system of sacrifice, that one could be saved by simply believing, and that the Mosaic law was obsolete. Paul’s zealous missionary activity and persuasive writings took his new “gospel” around the Roman Empire. The Jerusalem Church, including Peter and James, disowned Paul as a heretic and cult leader.

After the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the Jewish Church lost authority, but the Gentile Church founded by Paul increased its influence. One of Paul’s fervent followers wrote the book of Acts, which gave Paul legendary status with its glowing portrayal of him as the hero of the church. Later, four unknown writers gathered scraps of information about Jesus and wrote books they called “Matthew,” “Mark,” Luke,” and “John”—but Paul’s theology, already dominant in the church, tainted the writers’ perspective. Thus, Paul’s religion won out over Jesus’ religion.

In short, Paul was a charlatan, an evangelical huckster who succeeded in twisting Jesus’ message of love into something Jesus himself would never recognize. It was Paul, not Jesus, who originated the “Christianity” of today.


Commonly, those who hold to the above theory also believe the following:

1) Jesus was not divine. He never claimed to be God, and he never intended to start a new religion.

2) The Bible is not an inspired book and is riddled with contradictions. None of the Bible, except possibly the book of James, was written by anyone who knew Jesus. There are fragments of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels, but it is difficult to discern what he really said.

3) Paul was never a Pharisee and was not highly educated. His “conversion” was either a personal hallucinogenic experience or an outright fraud. His claims to be an apostle were attempts to further his own authority in the church.

4) Pauline theological “inventions” include a) the deity of Jesus; b) salvation by grace through faith; c) salvation through the blood of Jesus; d) the sinless nature of Jesus; e) the concept of original sin; and f) the Holy Spirit. None of these “new doctrines” were accepted by Jesus’ true followers.

5) The Gnostic Gospels are closer to the truth about Jesus than are the traditional four Gospels of the Bible.

195dchaikin
Oct 5, 2018, 8:58am Top

Another really interesting article I came across I can't access now on my laptop without subscribing. (I was able to read it on my phone yesterday). It was written by an American Evangelical Christian and scholar who talks about having grown up with essentially a Pauline Christianity, and then, having studied, migrated to a more Jesus-Christianity. And he talks about why, and how, as a professor at an evangelical college, he was encouraged to become more Pauline. This is also the article that discusses the political tilt to the discussion that makes Evangelical's more Pauline because that aspect of Christianity is more inline with American conservative views. If you're interested, you can try to access it here: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/december/9.25.html

196dchaikin
Edited: Oct 5, 2018, 9:07am Top

The other commercial break of sorts I wanted to add in here is that I learned a lot from listening to The Triumph of Christianity by Bart D. Ehrman. And one thing I learned is that I read Acts all wrong. Also I learned how unreliable it is in so many ways, and how many important details I overlooked. For example, in Act 17 when Paul speaks to the Athenians in the Areopagus, it turns out this is a prominent site in Athens, a rock outcrop one can stand on, below the acropolis, that overlooks the heart of the city.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areopagus

197FlorenceArt
Oct 6, 2018, 3:52am Top

So fascinating. When I watched Corpus Christi (wonderful documentary series about the origins of Christianity) several years ago, they didn't mention the content of the theological differences between the schools of James and Paul. They mostly focused on the institutional aspect, and how "Jésus prêcha le Royaume, et c'est l'église qui est venue" (Jesus preached the Kingdom, and instead the Church came). They repeated that quote several times but of course I forget who said this. A European theologian of the 20th century I think.

198dchaikin
Edited: Oct 6, 2018, 12:51pm Top

Florence - The documentary sounds fun. The change in that line is, subtly, Acts opening chapter, but different from the Pauline/Jesus divide.

That line means roughly the church evolved after Christ, for whatever reason (I can come up with lots of reasons, but they all seem a bit presumptuous. I'm a little partial to the oops-no-apocalypse-adjustment one.) In theory, the church still followed the trend of ideas Christ laid out and still looked forward to a future kingdom.

I'm not sure I can explain the Pauline/Jesus split. It goes something like this: The gospel points to a messiah, to ways of how the faithful should act and to a vague purpose, a second coming with judgement. Paul focuses on having faith in this Messiah, on how that faith is necessary for personal salvation. He prominently promotes faith over Jewish law. The consequence is that he moves the focus away from communal or personal ways of acting. Paul can kind of be summed up as faith for salvation, whereas that's only one part of the gospel. .... not sure this explanation would help anyone...

199dchaikin
Edited: Oct 8, 2018, 9:34am Top

Romans Chapter 1 (finally...)

I'll divide this by line numbers, as there are several distinct pieces.

1-7 Salutation where Paul's title comes across as a summary of Christianity. Re-reading, it seems like a summary of his own message. His purpose, in his words, is "to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles"

8-15 Thanksgiving. A quote for flavor: "For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith"

16-17 The gospel as the Power of God, but also, a message on the centrality of faith: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’"

18-31 Here begins the letter proper, I think, with an argument that there is no excuse for non-belief, because God has revealed himself to all. That is everyone is guilty. And then it begins to describe all those who rejected god as lustful and debased, and includes an anti-homosexual barrage.

This is the beginning of an argument that lasts through 3:20 (or maybe 3:26)

For readers doing this in biblical order (like me), welcome to Paul.

200dchaikin
Oct 6, 2018, 2:58pm Top

Romans Chapter 2

- argument continues from 1:18, that there is no excuse and seek good. It brings in aspects of Judgment Day and eternal life. God, through Jesus Christ, will jugde

- Just before addressing Jewish law, he has this line: "When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves." - I just found that interesting because I use the phrase "law unto themselves" to mean lawless, or not following normal law. Whereas here the phrase is used for those who follow the traditions instinctively.

- Then he begins to attach traditional Jewish law first by pointing out ways (he thinks) teachers of Jewish law are not following Jewish law. "You that boast in the law, do you dishonour God by breaking the law?" Then he goes into the circumcision argument, apparently (and not surprisingly) a big deal for gentiles. In Acts Timothy is circumcised after he becomes a follower of Paul. Anyway, for Paul, circumcision is internal - "it is spiritual and not literal"

201dchaikin
Edited: Oct 8, 2018, 9:37am Top

Romans Chapter 3

This is where my head starts to hurt. Paul is talking about how we are all sinners, even those who follow the law. He has list of OT quotes to emphasize this. But, worse, it is the law that teaches us what sin is. But the way he says this is so hard to follow, with lines like this: "Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God." And so on.

Then he goes into a prolonged argument that righteousness comes from faith, not from law (ie not from Jewish traditions). The argument continues through chapter 5, but here it starts with some main points of the book:
"But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;

...

For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
"
From here (3:21) to 5:11 is a prolonged argument

202dchaikin
Oct 6, 2018, 5:15pm Top

Romans Chapter 4

More convoluted arguments on law vs faith, here built around Abraham and taking from Genesis 15:6: ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’

Paul argues Abraham's righteousness came from his belief, and that it did not come through his works, but was independent of them... I think. Then Paul argues Abraham was righteous before he was circumcised, hence uncircumcised are also blessed. And works this into how the law is not only insufficient and unnecessary, but actually worse than no law; " For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation." Then, this same righteousness will be given to those "who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead"

203dchaikin
Edited: Oct 8, 2018, 9:42am Top

Romans Chapter 5

more headaches.

The first part is the closing of the argument begun in 3:21 that we are "justified by faith" (the word "justified" is loaded today, and I'm guessing was then too, referencing judgment and Judgment Day). Some quotes for flavor:
"...but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."
...
"But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us."
Then he switches arguments to how Faith frees us from sin. This Argument continues through the end of chapter 8. Here he opens with his comparison of Adam and Christ. Adam, source of original sin, represents sin and death, since original sin resulted in our death. Whereas Christ represents the opposite, justification and life.

The original sin reference here is important. His actual wording is "...sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin...sin was indeed in the world before the law"

He calls Christ's offering of justification and life through his death, "the free gift."

204dchaikin
Edited: Oct 8, 2018, 9:45am Top

Romans Chapter 6

My notes say "preaching" - but that basically covers this entire epistle. Also, my head hurts again trying to make sense of this stuff.

(This continues the "Faith frees us from sin" argument begun in chapter 5)

First he writes about Christ's death as a renewal. Or, in his words, as a baptism for all, one that represents a death for all of his followers, and then a rebirth, now free from sin.

And he has a weird bit on presenting "your members", as in "No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God..." I have no idea if that sounds as awkward in Greek as it does in English.

The second part plays with the idea of being slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness (he says "obedience"). For the record, Paul is clear. While faith is what it takes, he is very much against any sin. So, we should be slaves to righteousness. Another quote for flavor:
But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

205dchaikin
Edited: Oct 8, 2018, 9:46am Top

Romans Chapter 7

(continues the "Faith frees us from sin" argument begun in chapter 5)

Paul thinks we are all hopeless sinners and goes here to extremes. First he argues Christ's death frees followers from the law, and compares this to a widow free to marry again. Then he argues that the law creates problems because it does not curb sin, but instead sin uses the law to provoke the forbidden. But still, the Law is holy and not bad in itself. Finally he says we are all driven by inner sin:
"Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.
"

206FlorenceArt
Oct 7, 2018, 12:34pm Top

Your poor head! I’m grateful that you are going through all this and explaining it to us. I think my head would hurt too.

207dchaikin
Oct 8, 2018, 9:32am Top

Hi Florence. I'm trying to explain...but it's hard when I'm still trying to understand/follow. (Also, need to go back fix some typo's, at least the ones I can catch...)

208dchaikin
Oct 8, 2018, 9:56am Top

reading my notes over, it seems Paul is saying gentiles are better than Jews, but in such a way that he can't be pinned down on that. It's the implication. Roughly: All these fools follow this law, I mean it's a good law and all and good to follow if you think you need to, but it's also completely unnecessary. And, anyway, we're all going sin. So, if you haven't been following this law, well, you haven't wasted your time then, you're just as good as those who followed the law, except you're actually a better smarter person, since you know, those who followed never actually needed to, and so, what were they doing? Anyway, they'er OK, but you avoided all that stuff. Come on, faith y'all.

... granted, I'm having enough trouble following the text, I might be 100% off the actual here.

209FlorenceArt
Oct 8, 2018, 2:00pm Top

LOL. Sounds like he was trying to win over the gentiles without alienating the Jews (too much). I think he succeeded in the first much better than the second. Maybe they also picked up on the condescension? Or maybe they just liked their law better.

210dchaikin
Oct 9, 2018, 7:17am Top

Romans Chapter 8

(concludes the argument that "Faith frees us from sin" begun in chapter 5)

- "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. - This is Paul's solution to all this inevitable sinning.

- He goes to give advise against sinning: "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." He associates the flesh with death, and the spirit with life and peace (spiritual peace?)

- which ties back to Adam and original sin and it's consequences.

- then:
" Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
"

211dchaikin
Oct 9, 2018, 7:42am Top

Romans Chapter 9

Chapters 9-11 form a unit on God and the Israelites

There's just no easy way to sum this up...

In the first section, roughly, Paul is dealing with the tension between Jews as his people and as source of the messiah, and Christians. And it personal, his own anguish: "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."

But "It is not as though the word of God had failed." Because the "word of God" is, must be, always dependable. Then he quickly goes through the history - Abraham, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Moses and the Pharoah - to show that"it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants."

If anyone is wondering why God would have started with the Jews, and yet they have such a prominent fault of not following Christ, well, he addresses it here with God as a potter, and the strategic artist of the faults in his pot, or plan. "What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?" If your Jewish, it's hard not to see that as a ominous.

So, why don't these Jews believe? It's that law: " Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works."

212dchaikin
Oct 9, 2018, 8:03am Top

Romans Chapter 10

(Part of the unit on God and the Israelites, chapters 9-11)

First he mourns for the Jews who "have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened."

Then he plays on Deuteronomy 30. I'll quote both:

Deuteronomy 30:12-14 :
"It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe."
Romans 10:5-8 :
"Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that ‘the person who does these things will live by them.’ But the righteousness that comes from faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ down) ‘or “Who will descend into the abyss?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

‘The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart’

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);
"
The point is everyone can be saved through professing their faith (in Christ) and holding it in their heart.

But back to the unbelieving Jews:"But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?" He follows this up with something I can't quite follow, but, roughly, he says they have actually heard.

213dchaikin
Oct 10, 2018, 7:22am Top

Romans Chapter 11

(concludes unit on God and the Israelites, chapters 9-11)

- "has God rejected his people? The answer is not straight forward. First Paul says no, then talks about the remnant, ie only a remnant aren't rejected. And, to emphasize his argument against Jewish law: "there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

- "through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles..." He then turns this into an argument to not reject Jews, but bring them into this faith. "...if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!" And then presents Jews as the root of the religion through the idea of of grafting (gentile) branches onto the (Jewish) roots of an olive tree.

- Then he concludes the unit by saying all Jews will be saved, but it's a mystery, or so he kind of argues. It more a convoluted logic. "As regards the gospel they {Jews} are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Which leads to this line: "O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! "

214dchaikin
Oct 10, 2018, 7:39am Top

Romans Chapter 12

(12:1 to 15:13 are a unit which wikipedia calls transformation, and the study bible calls admonitions)

Opens:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Then he immediately switches into how to live. It's very much consistent with the wisdom traditions - like that found in Ben Sira, or the Book of Wisdom or Proverbs. That is practical stuff, " think with sober judgement", but with emphasis on religious devotion. My study bible call this "a series of imperatives for all Christians", but I want to emphasize, this isn't a series of Christ-like statements. There is no "turn the other cheek", or "the first will be last". Instead, its just a "Live in harmony with one another" kind of thing.

215dchaikin
Edited: Oct 11, 2018, 7:15am Top

Romans Chapter 13

(continues transformation/admonitions unit started in chapter 12)

It here that I kind of felt like a switch clicked and the tone changed. Maybe it started in Chapter 12, because the convoluted arguments end there. But chapter 12 feels normal. In chapter 13, it's like the text become monotone. You can picture someone reading this without any emotion.

Opens with the most infamous part of this book:
"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due to them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due."
Those are the lines used to defend slavery, and what Jeff Sessions referred to when defending his ongoing policy of isolating children refugees with an organization already charged with child abuse, and what Sarah Huckabee Sanders meant in her comment "It is very biblical to enforce the law." That is to say, Paul is credited with, arguably, the bible's lowest point. (There are other low points). I imagine this is included as an olive leaf to the Roman Empire, as a way of saying Christians aren't trouble-makers. And, yes, I suspect it was added in later, along with all of 13:1 - 15:13.

Then it goes straight to the golden rule: "The commandments...are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’"

And then a prompt to get faithful: "For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers..."

216dchaikin
Edited: Oct 11, 2018, 7:29am Top

Romans Chapter 14

(continues transformation/admonitions unit started in chapter 12)

Paul addresses the idea of people who are strong and weak in faith, and urges followers not to judge. Each to his own, or "So then, each of us will be accountable to God."

Then he addresses eating restrictions, which I roughly interpret as, eat whatever you think you should, as long as you act on faith. (and that can probably be extended to all Jewish customs)

Like Chapters 12 & 13, nothing complicated or brain tormenting here. In my notes at the end of chapter 14 I wrote: "it's hard to believe these last several chapters are not a composite of different writings."

217dchaikin
Edited: Oct 11, 2018, 8:13pm Top

Romans Chapter 15

15:1-13 concludes transformation/admonitions unit started in chapter 12

"We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves." - point is something like, let's all stick together.

Then a bit on how Christ and God welcome Jews and gentiles, with several OT quotes on gentiles.

----

Then the book begins a closing with Paul talking about himself, kind of explaining or defending his reasoning for writing this letter. "For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ."

And Paul announces his plans to stop by Rome (to whose community he is writing to) on his way to Spain, but after a stop in Jerusalem. (He was probably writing from Greece, likely Corinth, so it would be a while). And notes his worry about Jerusalem by asking Rome to join him in prayer " that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea."

218dchaikin
Oct 11, 2018, 8:20pm Top

Romans Chapter 16

He closes with greetings, first to "our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae", his benefactor, then to many other people, including Prisca and Aquila (Acts 18), Timothy, "my co-worker", Sosipater (from Acts 20:4), Erastus (from Acts 19:22), and Tertius, "the writer of this letter" (indicating he dictated it).

And he gives a warning: "I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offences, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them. For ... by smooth talk and flattery they deceive..."

Then a doxology that may have been added later.

219dchaikin
Edited: Oct 11, 2018, 8:24pm Top

That completes Romans. No closing thoughts as they are mostly in 191-194 above. Reading this a second time doesn't change my thoughts much on what Pauline Christianity is. It's still a bit of a mystery to me, and a mystery why he doesn't teach the lessons of this Messiah, by only faith in his...existence?...divinity? Well, and a lot on sin. There are plenty more of his letters to go, so I should learn more. First Corinthians will be next.

220dchaikin
Edited: Oct 22, 2018, 7:25am Top

First Corinthians - an introduction-like post

I read this over the last four days. It's much easier reading than Romans, the convoluted logic tamped way down. Here it seems Paul was addressing divisions and factions in the Christian community in Corinth, he writes this letter as an effort to bring them together. It being Paul, its heavy on demanding and criticizing, and as a whole it also becomes something of a manual on proper behavior, but he goes other places too - waxing on wisdom, and momentarily attaining some elegance on his version of communal love. Chapter 13 - I'll probably post the whole chapter in my notes (only 13 lines). But these instructions, naturally, don't stand the test of time. He addresses women as if they are something lesser than men - it's there at least twice, bold and un-erasable (although some believe some of these lines are later additions).

Truth be told, I didn't get much out of this the first time around. It was kind of, not exactly boring, but forgettable. I had time to wonder if this is really worth my time. If my notes are quick, that may be why.

- First Corinthians is the name of a sister of Milkman Dead in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon. Something to think about. Was she trying to bring people together, or, you know, was First Corinthians Dead, like her name? You'll have to ask Toni.

221dchaikin
Edited: Oct 21, 2018, 10:37am Top

notes of The Literary Guide to the Bible, essay by Michael Goulder

Goulder sees 1 Corintihians as one of three letters written by Paul after some critical reverses in his communities, including criticism of him personally. The letters are, in order, Galatians, 1 Corinthians and Romans. He uses 1 Corinthians to focus on Paul's tone as the loving father, pastoral. And notes Paul's somewhat sophisticated method of argument. He wants to address speaking in tongues, something he wants to respectfully deride. Speaking in tongues appears to mean something like you might imagine, making sounds in no understandable language while in religious ecstasy. So, he works out an order of the valuable things one can do for Christianity, where apostleship comes first, prophecy second, and way down the list, at number 8, is speaking in tongues, than later, having put it down the list, he can address it directly within that context. I didn't pick up this contextualizing myself, while reading it. Something to keep in mind as I work out my notes.

Goulder also touches on chapter 13 - the love chapter. The word NRSV translates as love, Goulder translates as "charity". He writes, "Paul reaches sublimity because his cataract of Charity-verb sentences conveys the richness and attractiveness and down-to-earth quality of the Christian life, and because they take their place between earlier and later rapids of the river of his eloquence." OK...

222dchaikin
Oct 21, 2018, 10:39am Top

from wikipedia on 1 Corinthians chapter 13: " This chapter covers the subject of "love." In the original Greek, the word ἀγάπη agape is used throughout. This is translated into English as "charity" in the King James version; but the word "love" is preferred by most other translations, both earlier and more recent."

223dchaikin
Edited: Oct 22, 2018, 7:33am Top

notes from Wikipedia

- Calls it a masterpiece of pastoral theology

- Some famous lines
---- 9:22 "I became all things to all men"
---- 13:11 "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child"
---- 13:12 "through a glass darkly" (butchered in NRSV as "in a mirror dimly")

- Again, Paul is almost universally considered the actual author, although there are several passages that are considered inserted (11:1-16 - dealing with praying and prophesying with head covering; 14:34-35 which tells that women should be silent in church, and 10:1-22 on eating meat dedicated to pagan idols)

- Wikipedia dates this at 53-57 ce, while the study bible says 54 ce.

- summarizes this as, written in light of jealousies, rivalries and immoral behavior in letter from Corinth asking about marriage and eating meat offered to idols. Obviously some conjecture there.

Seven parts:
1:1-3 Salutation - noting legitimacy of Paul's apostleship
1:4-9 Thanksgiving - introduces mysteries and tongues
1:10 - 4:21 divisions in Corinth (facts, causes and cures)
5:1 - 6:20 immorality in Corinth - sexual impropriety and purity
7:1 - 14:14 difficulties in Corinth - marriage, Christian liberty and worship
15:1-58 doctrine of resurrection
16:1-24 closing

- context: Paul had visited Corinth and started the community there, having baptized two people and a family. Corinth has also been visited by Apollos and maybe Peter, or someone associated with Peter. And letter has been written to Paul from Corinth, possibly from the "household of Chloe".

- "Regarding marriage, Paul states that it is better for Christians to remain unmarried, but that if they lacked self-control, it is better to marry than "burn" (πυροῦσθαι) which Christians have traditionally thought meant to burn with sinful desires. (NRSV replaces "burn" with "to be aflame with passion")

224dchaikin
Oct 21, 2018, 11:18am Top

notes on 1 Corinthians from the introduction in the HarperCollins Study Bible

Interesting how many names we get from the Corinthian community: Pisca and Aquila (16:19, Romans 16:304, Acts 18:2), Achaicus, Fortunatus and Stepahans (16:17), Crispus and Gaius (1:14, Acts 18:8, Romans 16:23), Phoebe (Romans 16:1) and Erastus (Romans 16:23)

- Paul critical of those with special religious "wisdom", of ecstatic speech, and of those already "reigning" in Christ's glory.

- style - exhortation and pastoral council

- Paul cites Jesus once and uses saying from him two other times - 7:10-11 and 9:14. (They are minor, and about conduct -things like divorce)

- expositions on the saving power of the cross, the nature of the church, the "more excellent way" of love, and on God's final victory.

225dchaikin
Oct 21, 2018, 11:36am Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 1

Salutation:
"Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
"
Saints, as used here, meaning or deriving from sanctified, as in holy.

Thanksgiving:

"I give thanks to my God always for you..."

"... you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind" - that's Paul's first reference to speaking in tongues, very subtle here.

Then straight to church divisions:
"For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"
(Cephas is Peter.)

Then he begins on wisdom:

"For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’" - quoting Isaiah 29:14. His point is that man understands nothing, that the wisdom of god is beyond human comprehension. He way of saying it, is that God makes the wise foolish.

226dchaikin
Oct 21, 2018, 11:52am Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 2
"When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God."
- Paul is saying he didn't use any ornamented or fancy speech, and he is also taking a shot at the mysteries, or gnostics.

Then back to wisdom, and that secret wisdom belongs only to God. Roughly, he says we can't understand god through any wisdom, but only in spirit, with spiritual understanding. Something like how faith opens a sort of subconscious understanding.

"Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny." (I feel the need to quote this line, and also note that it bothers me a lot. It's the don't listen defense - become devout enough, and closed minded enough that nothing will affect your thinking.)

227dchaikin
Oct 21, 2018, 11:59am Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 3 - back to divisions of the church

expands on the 1:10-17, with building and gardening metaphors

"Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?" - he'll expand the meaning of that later.

"Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise."

228dchaikin
Oct 21, 2018, 12:09pm Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 4

addresses the nature of apostles, "servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries"
"For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honour, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day."
Then, "in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me." He finishes with noting some have become arrogant, and makes a sort of threat noting that he is coming to Corinth and will look into this, and also that he has already sent Timonthy ahead.

229dchaikin
Edited: Oct 22, 2018, 7:38am Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 5

Paul is outraged at news of a Christian man living with his stepmother. No names are given. "When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord." - A comment open to wide interpretation.

Then, he encourages the church to not associate with extreme sin: "But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. ... ‘Drive out the wicked person from among you.’ (the quote is from Deuteronomy 17:7) That seems more or less reasonable...except that it's so clearly something the Jesus of the gospels would never have said or supported.

230dchaikin
Oct 21, 2018, 12:27pm Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 6

Has a section arguing that Christians to take their legal concerns to the church saints (ie holy ones), and not to civil courts. " In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you."

That reasoning evolves into this:
"Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."
And he continues to rant against fornication, including this line, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you". I have to admit, I seriously thought that was a line nuns made up.

231dchaikin
Oct 21, 2018, 12:43pm Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 7 - on marriage and conversion

Paul responds to a question from the Corinthians, "Is it well for a man to touch a woman." He answers with a essay on marriage, basically saying it's better not have sex, but if you need it, then get married first. And he talks about how the spouse is responsible for the other's sexual needs - at least here he not overtly sexist, it goes both ways. He has several quotable lines:
"Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

" This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am."

"For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion*."
*(KJV has "burn", which seems more appropriately ambiguous.)

This leads to commands against divorce, which is consistent with Jesus's statements in Mark, Luke and Matthew, even if Paul does not actually cite Jesus.

And this leads to a Christian married to a non-Christian. Paul is ok with this, in the hope that the Christian may save their spouse. He also makes a concession for when the non-Christian spouse bolts.

And this leads to a discussion on conversion, where the main point is that converting to Christianity does not change one's position in society. A slave who converts is still a slave and whatnot. "let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned"

And then back to marriage. Namely, that marriage and marital sex are not sins.

232dchaikin
Oct 21, 2018, 12:51pm Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 8

Chapters 8-10 revolve around what to do about eating meat left as an offering for idols - a common pagan practice.

His point here is that there is nothing special about this food, since these idols are nothing but false gods. So, it's fine to eat it, except that it leaves the wrong impression on those who see you, because it will make you look like a believer in these idols

Note that he opens the discussion by summing his wisdom argument: "Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him."

And I found this line odd: "Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— yet for us there is one God"

233dchaikin
Oct 21, 2018, 12:59pm Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 9 - on the rights of an apostle

Basically Paul says the Christian leadership should paid a living wage to do their work, even if Paul himself does not get anything of this sort. In the process, he also talks about what apostles do, finishing by comparing them to Olympic athletes.

some interesting lines:
"If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my defence to those who would examine me."

"For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some."

234dchaikin
Edited: Oct 21, 2018, 5:44pm Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 10

Now, back on topic from chapter 8, Paul goes over a summary of the trials and tribulations of the Israelites wandering the desert with Moses, and summarizes, "Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did."

Then brings this to Christians, for how God tests: "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it."

And then to a paragraph on the Lord's Supper - that is the drinking of wine, eating of bread, to drink the blood and eat the flesh of Christ. That's an interesting link - meat for idols to this.

And he concludes, roughly, be respectful but refuse the meat of these sacrifices. "... do everything for the glory of God. Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God"

----

I should note he includes this line - for those who miss his convoluted logic:
"‘This has been offered in sacrifice’, then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I mean the other’s conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgement of someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?"
And I should also note that some consider most of this chapter a later addition (but not the quote just above)

235dchaikin
Oct 22, 2018, 7:56am Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 11

- The infamous head covering chapter, where Paul discussed women. Many consider this a later addition. He is going over whether women should wear a veil while praying, apparently a custom, and basically says it makes no difference, it's up to personal preference. But in talking about it, he devolves into an analysis of women in general, and how they are lesser then me. He has these lines: " For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. "

It also has this curious line, "For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels." - that's the NRSV translation, with notes that say there is no agreement on how to translate this line.

Next Paul returns to the Lord Supper to address how communal divisions. He sees the Lords Supper as a coming together, and derides any disrespect of it, which include, by implication, these divisions.

236dchaikin
Oct 22, 2018, 8:50am Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 12 - parts of the church

Some of us have gifts, all from the same one spirit. And he lists these gifts, or talents: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the discernment of spirits, various kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues.

After an extended metaphor of the human body as a church community, with parts as contributors, (or the church as Christ's body), he goes on to define those parts: "And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues." - so, now there is a hierarchy of these gifts, well, the lists are different. But, the subtle point is that tongues is at the end.

237dchaikin
Oct 22, 2018, 8:57am Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 13 - love
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly*, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
*(or through a glass darkly).

This is elegant, and the whole chapter because the affect is from the context. What strikes me on re-reading it, is that the argument of love over wisdom/faith/knowledge etc is actually, in apparent main purpose, an argument against speaking in tongues, from the first line.

238dchaikin
Oct 22, 2018, 9:01am Top

King James version, for comparison:
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

239dchaikin
Oct 23, 2018, 7:32am Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 14

- finally Paul is ready to attack speaking in tongues, but in a polite way. Keep the hierarchy in chapter 12 in mind, where is lays the groundwork. Roughly he says speaking prophesy is better than speaking in tongues, but they're both ok. Prophecy speaks to everyone and can build up the church community, but tongues cannot be understood, it only builds up the person speaking, and it's like the spirit is praying while the mind is unproductive.

- This leads to a discussion on order in a church, and how to incorporate prophecy and tongues. And, then there are these unfortunate lines: "As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home."

-But, the over all theme here is to try to bring divergent Christians together.

240dchaikin
Edited: Oct 23, 2018, 7:46am Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 15

Finally in this chapter Paul turns to preaching on the theme of his version of the general Christian message, in three parts

First, he opens with a summary of the gospel, and, going through the apostles, notes, "Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he {Christ} appeared also to me."

Then he attacks the skeptic who doesn't believe in resurrection, saying roughly, if you don't hope for resurrection you are denying Christ's own resurrection. And if Christ wasn't resurrected, all of this is in vein, and no one will be raised.

And finally he attacks the skeptic who might ask how was Christ raised. He calls this person a fool, and then goes on to explain a spiritual resurrection - the imperishable, the spiritual body is raised. But if you happen to be living when Judgement Day comes, no worries, you experience an instant transformation. "Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

241dchaikin
Oct 23, 2018, 7:51am Top

1 Corinthians Chapter 16

The lecture is over and Paul and close on more practical stuff. He collections for Jerusalem, and travel plans, and those of Timothy and Apollos. (Paul plans to come to Corinth, but it held up in Ephesus, "for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." (I'm not sure what that means.)

"Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love."

Then he references, in different ways, Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus, Aquila and Prisca, and closes.

242dchaikin
Oct 23, 2018, 8:48am Top

That finished my notes on 1 Corinthians. I don't really know what to say on closing. I know it's a letter about Christians coming together, but it didn't feel that way. Maybe that is because I associate such talk with trying to be inspirational, but Paul is mainly giving lectures. There are a lot of guides on customs, laws, how to live and how churches should behave, making this something of a code of conduct. And, maybe that's more along the lines of how I see it--like Leviticus, obscure laws and customs.

243FlorenceArt
Oct 24, 2018, 1:56am Top

Strange that you compare it to Leviticus. That’s not the impression I got while reading your notes. Not that I had any specific impression, just enjoying reading about yours.

244dchaikin
Oct 24, 2018, 9:01am Top

>243 FlorenceArt: Thanks! The Leviticus comparison was my thought of the moment, which I'm 2nd guessing a little now. Leviticus is more about purity and ritual, but it does have all those laws. Paul here is more about setting some standards to bring a community together. So, it just kind of clicked that both have a sort of code of conduct.

245dchaikin
Nov 3, 2018, 10:49am Top

I've started Second Corinthians on a new thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/298222

This topic was continued by BR: NT 2.

Group: Club Read 2018

120 members

12,656 messages

About

This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 131,727,596 books! | Top bar: Always visible